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Cambtfose : 


The Hulsean Dissertation for 1880, which is now 
published, is an attempt to trace the relation which the 
Jewish Christians of the first two centuries bore to 
Judaism. Without pretending to be an exhaustive dis- 
cussion, it seeks to point out the way in which the new 
faith was distinguished from the old, and to follow the 
successive steps by which this difference became manifest. 
In one aspect it may be regarded as a criticism of the 
Tubingen theory. But its aim is rather to give an 
independent view of a distinct, though related, subject. 
The limits of an historical essay have been closely ad- 
hered to throughout; and the conclusions arrived at have 
been made to depend, as little as possible, on the decision 
of questions in dispute amongst literary critics. 

W. R S. 


I. Introductory: nature of the subject and its relation to the 
Tubingen theory ...... 


II. State of Judaism at the time when Christianity arose . . 5 

1. Want of national homogeneity: 

Hebrews and Hellenists .... 5 

2. Want of religious harmony : 

Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, and their relation 

to Christianity ...... 7 

III. Eelation of Jewish Christians to Judaism in the Apostolic 

Age 14 

A. Preparatory : 

1. Meaning of the term ' Jewish Christian ' .14 

2. Beview of Authorities . . .17 

B. The three stages of this relationship . . .24 

1. The Belief in the Messiahship of Jesus as differen- 
tiating the early Christians from other Jews . 25 

(1) The implications of this belief seen chiefly 
from its place in the writings of the Apostles . 28 

(2) Its immediate result distinguishing Christians 
from Jews . . . . .31 

(a) missionary character of Christianity . 31 

(b) persecution of Christians by the Jews . 31 

(c) independent organization of the Christians . 32 


2. Traditional external observances still adhered to 

3. The Conflict between the new idea and these 

external customs . 

(1) Origin of the conflict . 

(2) The conflict itself 

(a) The Council of Jerusalem, its parties, and 

the decision 

(b) The Schism at Antioch : its real signi 

ficance .... 

(3) The result of the conflict 
Consequent attitude of Christianity to Judaism . 

C. State of Parties at the close of the Apostolic Age . 

1. The Paulinists, now quite freed from Judaism 

2. The older apostles (who seem to have kept the law 
without regarding its observance as essential) 

3. The extreme « Jewish Christians ' or * Judaizers 

IV. The Post- Apostolic Age ..... 

distinguished from the preceding chiefly by one external event, 
the destruction of the Temple 

A. Effect of this event, 

1. On the Jews .... 

2. On the Christians 

(1) narrower effect on those in Palestine 

(2) more catholic effect on the thought of the 


B. Authorities for this part of the subject 

C. The consequent relation of the Jewish Christians to 


Difference between their external and their doctrinal 
relation ..... 

1. The external relation . 

(1) Traces of original unseparatedness (?) 

(2) Explicit break from the side of Judaism 

(3) Consequences of this 



2. The theological or doctrinal relation . . .65 

(1) Position as to legal observance . . .66 

(2) Position as to Christology . 69 

(a) attitude of the Jews to the Jewish Christians . 69 
(a) first attitude : abstract monotheism . 70 
(j8) modified position : nomism . . .71 

(b) attitude of the Jewish Christians . . 73 

(3) Besultant Jewish Christian sects in their mutual 

relation and relation to Judaism . . 74 

(a) Nazarenes and Ebionites . . .74 

(b) Essene Christians : their relation to the Essenes 80 
(a) in custom ..... 80 
(fi) in doctrine . . . . .81 
(7) their identification . . . .83 

V. Beview and Conclusion ..... 84 

I PUEPOSE in the following pages to discuss a question 
closely connected with, but yet distinct from, the main 
theory of the Tubingen school. This theory, which is 
chiefly associated with the name of Ferdinand Christian 
Baur, aims at a reconstruction of the history of early Chris- 
tianity, and of the purpose and origin of the Christian 
Scriptures, based on a thorough-going distinction between 
Jewish and Gentile Christians. Baur holds that this differ- 
ence was far more deeply rooted and extensive than previous 
historians had imagined or the Christian records would have 
us believe. Founding his argument on the admitted dis- 
sensions in the early Church, borne witness to by the Epistles 
of St Paul — especially the Epistle to the Galatians and 
the First Epistle to the Corinthians — and by the Acts of 
the Apostles, he contends that in the latter work there is 
a systematic attempt to gloss over the depth of difference 
between the two parties and to narrow the extent of their 
quarrels — an attempt which bears the impress of a time 
when the opponents were (through the influence of the 
persecutions that pressed on them from without) coming 
to terms, and might be brought still closer by a historian 

S. H. E. 1 


who could so judiciously blend fact and fiction as to cool 
the heated memory of former strife and to make believe 
that the contending parties had from the outset been very 
much at one. 

This mediating tendency it is which Baur thinks he 
has succeeded in exposing. He contends that the difference 
between Jewish and Gentile Christians was one not of race 
or social custom merely, but in their fundamental concep- 
tions of Christianity, and that the former had much more 
in common with the unbelieving Jews than with the Gentile 
converts of Paul and his Hellenistic fellow-workers. As 
Zeller puts it in his essay on the Tubingen school 1 , " Baur 
took his stand on the fact that the apostles and the 
apostolic age were already divided by the opposition of 
Judaism and Paulinism, of a particularistic and a universal- 
istic, an Old Testament legal and a freer conception of Chris- 
tianity, that this opposition died out only gradually after 
many contests and attempts at reconciliation, and that it 
first reached its term in the second half of the second cen- 
tury in the Catholic Church and its dogmatic. In that deep- 
reaching opposition Baur sees the impelling force by which 
the development of the Church proceeded for more than a 
century; by the position they adopted towards it the dog- 
matic character of individuals and parties are, according to 
him, determined ; the monuments of the conflicts and media- 
tions by which it was brought to an end we still have in the 
extra-canonical and in the New Testament writings. Every 
stage of the way which the Church left behind it in its 
development is marked by writings some of which are (for 
the most part incorrectly) ascribed to the apostles or to 
pupils of the apostles, and, in the sequel, were placed along- 

1 Vortrage und Abhandlungen (1865), p. 287. 


side of the sacred codex of the Jews as a New Testament 

The object of the remarkable series of works inaugurated 
by the article on 'The Christ-party in the Corinthian Church 1 ' 
is to trace the relation of the Jewish Christians to their 
Gentile brethren. But the historical picture painted there 
has also its obverse side — that of their relation to Judaism 
and the Jews ; and it is to this aspect of the question that 
the present dissertation seeks to draw attention. 

Not only are these two sides of the question closely bound 
together, but perhaps it is not too much to say that the 
latter aspect, though it has received less attention than the 
former, is really the more fundamental of the two. We can 
scarcely take a single step with Baur in tracing the suc- 
cessive conflicts and reconciliations between the Paulinist 
and the Petrinist, the Gentile and the Jewish Christian 
parties, without being driven back to consider the relation 
in which the Jewish or Petrinist party stood to the tradi- 
tional doctrines and customary observances of Judaism. 
The sharp distinctions which Baur seeks to make out be- 
tween the two parties in the Church are, at the same time, 
an argument for the closer connection of one of these parties 
with the hereditary worship and creed. The more the 
Jewish Christians are separated from the Paulinists the 
nearer are they brought to the non-Christian Jews. Every 
characteristic which is made to distinguish them from the 
former is equally and at the same time a bond uniting them 
to the latter. 

And just in the same way we cannot go along with the 
opponents of Baur in directing attention to the funda- 
mental agreement which from the first existed between 

1 * Die Christuspartei in der korinthischen Gemeinde,' Tubinger Zeitschrift 
fiir Theologie, 1831, Heft iv. pp. 61 ff. 



Jewish and Gentile Christians, and which the Tubingen 
school ignored, or are said to have ignored, without, by 
implication at least, extending our consideration to the 
relation borne by both parties, and especially by the former, 
to the old national creed and ceremonial. Baur and his 
critics are agreed in admitting that at any rate one party in 
the Church occupied a totally different ground from that of 
Judaism, and the greater the amount of harmony which 
can be made out between that party and the so-called 
Jewish Christians, the greater must have been the diver- 
gence of the latter from their ancestral position. 

In a word, the greater the difference between Jewish 
and Gentile Christians, the greater must the similarity 
have been between Jewish Christians and Judaism, while, 
on the other hand, the greater the agreement between the 
former, so much the more real and important must the 
distinction between the latter have been. The following 
discussion will thus have to traverse a good deal of the 
well-trodden ground of the Tubingen school; and, as this 
school holds that two essentially different factors — Jewish 
and Gentile Christianity — became welded into the Catholic 
Church, the inquiry will have to be made here whether 
the Jewish Christians were originally almost indistinguish- 
able from the Jews, as Baur's theory implies, and Dr Graetz, 
the learned historian of Judaism, maintains; and also 
whether the various sects and parties of Jewish Christians 
with which the post-apostolic age is full were — all or 
any of them — the representatives of early Christianity, or 
whether they were not rather the development of tendencies 
which were only latent in the early Church, and, in the 
prominence which they afterwards obtained, the product 
to a large extent of the religious and social upheavals of 
the time. 


But before going on to discuss these questions it will be 
necessary to give some account of the state of Judaism 
itself — its spirit and various sects and parties — at the 
time when Christianity arose. 

Neither nationally nor doctrinally did Judaism any 
longer retain the homogeneity of its earlier years. Though 
the people may still have sought to preserve a united front 
against those without, previous dispersion and defeat had 
left no transient mark on their political unity. The wave 
of Western conquest on the crest of which Greece broke 
the narrow limits of the Aegean and extended its power and 
its culture to the then known world, had pierced the outer 
wall of partition that separated the Jews from surrounding 
races. The Jew abroad had already become a notable 
phenomenon in history ; and, in addition to the old Hebrew 
race settled in Palestine, there arose Jewish settlers in 
Alexandria, Kome, and most of the great towns of the 
world, who, while maintaining their old religious worship 
and the purity of their race, became conformed to the 
language, and, in part, to the customs, of the people 
amongst whom they lived, and caught unconsciously their 
very mode of thought. The descendants of these Jewish 
settlers were, from their use of the Greek tongue, called ' Hel- 
lenists ' to distinguish them from the ' Hebrews ' of Palestine 
who still spoke a dialect of the ancient language. It was 
Hellenistic Jews that first carried the Gospel to the Gentile 
races, and to them Paul and Barnabas belonged. It was 
in consequence of an alleged neglect of their widows by the 
Hebrews that the first dissensions of the early Church 
arose, and it was the Hellenist Stephen — the most promi- 
nent of the seven deacons appointed to appease this dis- 
content — who became the proto-martyr of the Christian 


Church, and who is looked upon by Baur as the precursor 
of the Apostle Paul in his struggle with Jewish Christi- 

At the same time these Hellenists were not necessarily 
Hellenizers either in doctrine or custom. It is scarcely 
necessary to say that they are not to be identified with the 
'Hellenists' of an earlier period, who, during the wars of 
independence against the Syrians, imitated the luxury and 
licentiousness of the Syrian Greeks and were rightly re- 
garded by the other Jews as traitors to the covenant 1 . But 
the use of the Septuagint version of the Scriptures even 
by those of them w T ho knew Hebrew, and of the Greek 
language for all ordinary purposes, not only made them 
susceptible to Western culture, but at the same time cut 
them off from the sympathies of their Palestinian brethren, 
from whose lips a modification of the old Hebrew speech was 
still to be heard, and who had no further literature than 
the Hebrew Scriptures and the interpretations by which 
they were beginning to be overlaid. And though many 
families — that of the Apostle Paul, for example — may have 
been as strict as any inhabitants of Jerusalem 2 , yet, as a 
general rule, the Hellenistic Jews seem to have been 
less warmly attached to the rites associated with the Temple 
worship, as they certainly let them drop with less apparent 
difficulty after their adoption of Christianity 8 . 

Thus the suspicion with which Hebrew regarded Hel- 
lenistic Jew paved the way for that conflict between Jewish 
and Gentile Christians which well nigh rent the infant 
Church in twain. But the difference between them was, 
for the most part, one of sentiment and tendency rather 

1 Graetz, Geschichte der Juden, 2nd ed., in. 9. 

3 Phil. iii. 5 ; Acts xxvi. 5 ; Gal. i. 14 ; 2 Cor. xi. 22. 

3 Graetz, iv. 77. 


than of creed and worship. Though the Alexandrians put 
the spiritual meaning of the Jewish ordinances above their 
formal observance, and though there may have been a 
tendency amongst some of them to treat the latter as in- 
different, yet Philo, their greatest representative and one 
who used the allegorising method to its full extent, contends 
that we must be equally careful, both in the diligent search 
of what is hidden, and in the strict observance of what is 
revealed 1 . No two things, it is true, are more radically 
opposed than the philosophy of religion he cultivated and 
the corresponding science among the Pharisees of Palestine. 
The whole meaning of the two movements is different. The 
one is more Greek than Hebrew, breathes the spirit of 
philosophy rather than that of a positive historic religion, 
while the other is strongly opposed to the introduction of 
foreign elements, is unspeculative, exegetical, and founded 
on a worship of the letter. But the speculative tendency 
of the former is subtly interfused through a form of Scrip- 
tural interpretation, and thus clothed on with a semblance 
of the realities of the orthodox Jewish belief. Over their 
deeper differences there was thrown a superficial garb of 
agreement, and the philosophers of Alexandria, as well as 
the legalists of Jerusalem, fully acknowledged the authority 
of Moses and the prophets and obeyed all the behests of 
the law 2 . 

Not less important, however, than this want of national 
homogeneity among the Jews, was an inner difference 
amongst the inhabitants of Palestine itself which was more 
closely connected with their religious conceptions. 

It would lead us too far afield to enter here into a 
thorough investigation of the character, relation to one 

1 De migr. Abr., Opera, ed. Mangey, i. 450. 

2 Cf. Neander, Church History (Engl, transl. 1847), i. 72. 


another, and relation to Christianity, of the ' three philoso- 
phical sects/ as Josephus calls them 1 , of the Pharisees, Saddu- 
cees, and Essenes. Bat traces of these different parties will 
so often meet us in the sequel, that it will be well to carry 
with us a picture in outline of their distinctive features. 
Much of the difficulty of portraying them arises from the 
fact that they were the gradual product of the political, 
religious, and, so to speak, literary experiences through 
which the Jews passed between the time of the Maccabees 
and the time of Christ, and when the voice of prophecy had 
long ceased to be heard among them. We must remember, 
too, that it is somewhat misleading to talk of them as ' sects ' 
in the ordinary acceptation of the term. The strict distinc- 
tion and definite doctrines implied by that name were, for a 
considerable time at any rate, unknown amongst them. The 
difference between them was only in the second place theo- 
logical, and was primarily one of political and social aims. 
The Sadducees worshipped alongside of the Pharisees, and, if 
the Essenes had a separate and peculiar cult which excluded 
them from the Temple service, they differed from the Phari- 
sees not so much in their ultimate object as by their despair 
of obtaining it in practical affairs, and their consequent 
attempt to realize their ideal of Judaism by a withdrawal 
from ordinary life. Besides, as Graetz points out 2 , it is 
somewhat unfair to regard the Pharisees as a mere sect, since 
the mass of the people belonged to their party, and looked 
up to them as their religious leaders. For the Essenes lived 
apart from the main stream of Jewish life, while the Saddu- 
cees — whether from aristocratic contempt or from knowledge 

1 Bell. Jud. II. 8, § 2 : Tpta y&p irapb. 'lovdalois etdrj (piXocrofa'iTat, Kal rov 
ixkv aipeTKTral $api<rcuoi k.t.X. Cf. Antiq. xvm. 1. § 2. 'lovdalois (piXoaotplcu 
rpets yj<rav 4k tov ircwv apx^ov t&v irarptop. 

2 Gesch. d. Judcn, in. 73 ; cf. Keim, Jesus von Nazara, I. 251. 


of the world — seem to have relinquished the leading idea of 
Judaism, that of the divine guidance of their nation, and 
thus to have found themselves so thoroughly out of sympathy 
with the people that, though they were the political heads of 
the nation, and in possession of the higher priestly offices 1 , 
popular feeling was so strong against them that they were 
compelled — so Josephus tells us — to conform to the doctrines 
of the Pharisees in their exercise of magisterial functions 2 . 

It had fallen to the Sadducees, who were at once the 
priests and nobles of the nation, to guide its fortunes through 
periods of military weakness and political dependence. " The 
Sadducees are the representatives of the new state which 
grew out of the rising under the Maccabees, the Pharisees are 
the representatives of the community whose foundation and 
whose end was the law 3 ." As soldiers or statesmen the 
former had come to trust to individual exertion and to cast 
aside the doctrine of divine providence. Their views were 
thus conditioned throughout by opposition to the Pharisees 
of whose creed this belief was the key-note. The latter were 
the religious party in the nation, but opposed the political 
programme of the Sadducees. The Sadducees were the 
political party, but developed a theological position antago- 
nistic to that of their opponents. They substituted individual 
free-will for the divine decree or elfiapfiivt) (though the Pha- 
risees had not regarded the two as inconsistent), and rejected 

1 The intimate connection of the priests with the Sadducees is plain from 
the way in which they are spoken of in the New Testament, e.g. Acts v. 17. 
That the Sadducees were the priestly party was asserted by Geiger in his 
monograph on * Sadducaer und Pharisaer ' first published in the Judische 
Zeitschrift filr Wissenschaft und Leben, n. (1862). The same view was after- 
wards worked out with full and conclusive argument by Wellhausen, Die 
Pharisaer und die Sadducaer (1874). Compare Mr Bobertson Smith's recent 
work, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church (1881), pp. 54, 62, 395. 

3 Jos. Antiq. xvin. 1. § 4 ; cf. Keim, Jesus, i. 181 f. 

8 Wellhausen, op. cit. , p. 94. 


the doctrine of the resurrection of the body 1 — Josephus says 
of the immortality of the soul 2 — by which the Pharisees 
vindicated their belief in the moral government of God. 
They seem to have also rejected the 'traditions of the elders 8 ' 
or 'unwritten tradition 4 ' which had gathered round the 
Scriptures and by which the Scribes interpreted and applied 
them. According to some early Christian accounts 5 they 
acknowledged the authority of no Scriptures except the 
books of the Torah, appealing to the letter of the Pentateuch 
as their standard, just as, at a subsequent period, the Karaites 
rejected the Talmud and fell back on the literal interpreta- 
tion of Scripture, and as, from other motives, the Reformers 
cast aside the traditions of the Church and proclaimed the 
Bible to be 'the religion of Protestants.' Despite the dry, 
rationalistic tendency thus manifested, it is here perhaps — in 
their rejection of tradition— that we come upon the only 
point on which the early Christian community had any 
similarity to the Sadducees. And, after the destruction of 
Jerusalem, the Pharisees set themselves to defend their oral 
traditions against the Christians just as they had formerly 
had to defend them against the Sadducees. 

Both with Pharisaism and with Essenism Christianity 
has more points of contact; and Christ himself has been 
asserted by one Jewish author 6 to have been an Essene, by 
another 7 to have been, a Pharisee. Mr de Quincey too has 
made popular the notion that the early Christians were a 
party of Essenes ; and, though the conclusion of the brilliant 

1 Matt. xx. 23 ; cf. Mark xii. 18 ; Acts xxiii. 8. 

2 Bell. Jud. ii. 8. § 14. 

8 ILapa86<reis tup irpGapvripwv — N. T. 

4 UapadoiTis dypa<f>os — Philo and Josephus. 

5 Origen, Tertullian and Jerome ; but cf. Wellhausen, p. 73 n. 
8 Graetz, in his Geschichte der Juden. 

7 Geiger; see p. 38 of the monograph cited above. 


essayist was perhaps as much due to love of paradox and 
literary effect as to scientific conviction, the arguments of 
Graetz in support of a similar view call for closer examina- 
tion. But if the predominantly religious view of things and 
the elevated morality of the Essenes, including their renun- 
ciation of the pleasures of the world, find their counterpart in 
Christianity, the practical and (without begging the question 
as to its universal application) missionary character of the 
latter has nothing to correspond with it in the retired life of 
the former ; while the very idea of a Messiah, as well as the 
prophetic literature that enshrined it, seems to have re- 
mained unknown to, or unacknowledged by, the Essenes. And 
though their conception of a universal priesthood reminds us 
of the similar doctrine of the New Testament 1 , the two priest- 
hoods are far from identical in character: the excessively 
exact ritual of Essenism, its set prayers and sacrifices, lustra- 
tions and strict sabbatic observances, initiatory oath, minute 
regulations as to dress, and abhorrence of anointing oil, are 
all opposed to the freer spirit of the Gospel 2 ; while its 
dualistic philosophy, with the mystic doctrines that followed 
in its train, and consequent rejection of marriage, indicate an 
entirely different standpoint from that of Christianity. The 
lavations of the Essenes have, it is true, been compared to the 
Christian baptism. But the latter is a ceremony performed 
once for all, and not a constantly recurring ordinance ; be- 
sides — at any rate at a subsequent period and perhaps also 
before the time of Christ — baptism formed part of the 
initiatory rites by which outsiders were admitted into the 
Jewish covenant as Proselytes of Eighteousness, and may 
have passed thence — but not from Essenism — into Christi- 

1 1 Pet. ii. 5, 9 ; Eev. i. 6 ; cf. Kifcsehl, EnUtehung der alt-katholischen 
Kirche, 2nd ed., p. 200. 

2 See especially Mark vii. 14 — 23. 


anity. And even the voluntary poverty, and community of 
goods 1 , on which Graetz seems chiefly to rely for establishing 
the Essenism of Christ, are not shown to be identical in the 
two. For, though Christ and those who accompanied Him 
on His journeys had doubtless a common purse 2 , there is no 
reason to suppose that goods were held in common amongst 
those who did not travel with Him, but yet ranked them- 
selves and were ranked by Him as His disciples. And even 
in the early apostolic Church the community of goods does' 
not appear to have been compulsory upon all its members 8 , 
but seems rather to have been the spontaneous reply of 
hearts newly touched by the feeling of a common brother- 
hood, than the result of any deliberate institution on the 
part of the leaders of the Church. 

Even if we so far agree with Keim* in looking upon 
John the Baptist as forming the link between the Essenes 
and Christ, we must remember that John was radically 
distinguished from them by forsaking their contemplative 
life for the practical work of preaching, while his leading 
thought was the near fulfilment of that Messianic idea 
which they seem to have rejected. It would almost appear, 
indeed, that he had much more in common with the Zealots 
than with the Essenes. The Zealots arose out of the 
Pharisaic party, but what the latter held as a mere theoretic 
belief, their wild enthusiasm attempted to realize in present 
politics. "They were fanatics for God and the fatherland, 
not merely for God and the law 6 /' And, though their 

1 The comparison on this point between the Therapeutae of Philo and the 
early Christian community as described in Acts ii. 14, 15, was already insti- 
tuted by Eusebius, H. E. t n. 17. 

2 John xii. 6, xiii. 29. 3 j^ c ^ Q v# 4 # 

4 Der geschichtliche Christus, 3rd ed., p. 17 ; cf. his Jesus, i. 483, where 
John is said to have been ' nicht unmittelbar ein Essaer.' 
6 Wellhausen, p. 109. 


political aims were transformed by him into a purely reli- 
gious purpose, John's burning call to repentance and pre- 
paration for the kingdom of God, which roused the people 
of Judaea, was more nearly related to the ' Kingdom ' they 
sought to realize than to the mystic piety of the Essenes. 

Far greater, as it seems to me, was the similarity of 
Christ's standpoint to that of the Pharisees. For both 
occupied the common ground of the Jewish doctrine of the 
covenant God and the promised Messiah. In* both was 
the idea of the Kingdom of God to which only righteousness 
admitted, though their righteousness rested on a strict 
observance of the minutiae of the law; that required by 
Him consisted in change of heart. On the subjects, too, 
of the resurrection of the body and of future retribution, 
Christ took the side of the Pharisees as against the Sad- 
ducees 1 . But the development of the law by the Scribes 
had consummated in a one-sided and narrowly intellectual 
conception of it which met with His strongest opposition 2 . 
He is distinguished from them above all by the spirituality 
of his idea of that Messianic Kingdom which it was His 
mission to found. And the uncompromising and even bitter 
antagonism with which He regarded them may perhaps 
be accounted for by the fact, that, having the idea before 
them, they or their leaders failed to recognise it in its true 
spiritual nature, obscuring both the Kingdom and its law 
— the one by their material conceptions, the other by their 
' traditions/ the interpretations of the Halacha and Midrash. 
The old prophetic enthusiasm was no longer theirs ; they 
were without the official rank that gave dignity to the 
Sadducees ; and they strove to atone for the want of these 
by making use of their position as interpreters of the 

1 Keim, Gesch. Christus, pp. 20, 72. 

a Matth. xi. 25 ff. : cf. Wellhausen, pp. 16, 21. 


law. But in the minute regulations they devised, and the 
strict observances they enjoined, they so entirely missed 
its spirit as to encourage an inconsistency between outward 
conduct and spring of action, — the 'hypocrisy' which has 
become associated with the name of Pharisee. 

Christianity thus grew up in an atmosphere charged 
mainly with Pharisaism, but interspersed with cross-currents 
of Sadducean indifferentism, and Essene ascetic mysticism, 
as well as of fanatic patriotism from the party of Judas 
Galilaeus, the founder of the so-called ' fourth sect ' among 
the Jews. 

In attempting to trace the relation which Jewish Chris- 
tians bore to Judaism, it will be well to state clearly at the 
outset the sense in which the word 'Jewish Christians ' is 
used. The natural signification of the term would seem to 
be Christians who were born Jews or who, before becoming 
Christians, had, as Proselytes of Eighteousness, undergone 
the conditions and been admitted to the full privileges of 
Judaism. But in the ordinary theological use of the name, 
introduced mainly through the influence of the Tubingen 
school, it denotes a distinct party or sect of Christians, 
according to whom Christianity was conditioned by, or was 
indeed a mere supplement to, the national ideas and legal 
observances of Judaism. That the early Church was entirely 
Jewish Christian in the former meaning of the term is a 
simple matter of fact ; that it was Jewish Christian in the 
latter signification is one of the chief theses of Baur and 
his followers. 

Hence it seems to me unfairly to prejudice the questions 
under discussion if we start with the more special definjtion 
of 'Jewish Christian.' Besides, some name is required for 
those Christians — at first the whole number but afterwards 

'JEWISH christian/ 15 

a gradually decreasing proportion — who were either Jews by 
birth or who had been admitted such after circumcision, 
baptism and a sin-offering 1 . It will indeed be found advis- 
able to restrict the meaning of the term in the sequel; but it 
is not necessary before starting to give a name to a definite 
view of Christianity which has not yet been met with and 
which may turn out to have arisen by slow degrees. If the 
meaning of the term 'Jewish Christian ' becomes changed and 
specialized in the sequel from denoting Christians who had 
first been Jews to designate those who tried to continue Jews 
after becoming Christians, and to have all others enter the 
Church through the same gate of Judaism as they had done, 
the alteration will but correspond to the change of parties 
within the Church in relation to one another and in relation 
to their surroundings. At first the question was one of the 
relation of 'Jewish Christians' (i.e. Christians born Jews) to 
the Gentile converts on the one hand, and to the Judaism 
in which they had been brought up, and with which they had 
not expressly broken, on the other. Afterwards, when the 
rights of the Gentile converts had been vindicated, and for 
St Paul and many others there was neither Jew nor Gentile 
in Christ Jesus, the question became one of the relation of 
'Jewish Christians ' (i.e. Jewish Christians in the former sense 
who sought to retain their Judaism) to the rest of the Church 
(whether admitted by Jewish or Gentile gate) on the one 
hand, and, on the other, to the creed and constitution of 
that Judaism from which they were unwilling to separate 
themselves. These different phases of the question corre- 
spond broadly in time to the apostolic and post-apostolic 
ages respectively. And the division between the two periods 

1 The ceremonies of admission to Proselytism of Bighteousness ; cf. 
Graetz, iv. 110 ; Ferdinand Weber, System der altsynagogalen palastinischen 
Theologie (1880), p. 75. 


agrees pretty exactly with the date of the destruction of the 
Temple and dispersion of the Jews 1 , events which formed a 
crisis in the history of Christianity as well as of Judaism. 
The following discussion thus falls naturally into two parts — 
the apostolic and the post- apostolic age, or that before and 
that after the destruction of the Temple — both because the 
relation between Jewish Christians and Judaism assumed 
different aspects during these two periods and because the 
authorities on which we have to rely in tracing that rela- 
tion are different. 

1 The martyrdom of Paul and (?) Peter took place in 67, that of James 
the Just in 69 ; the Temple was destroyed in 70 a.d. 


We have here to depend almost entirely on the sources 
of information supplied from the Christian side. For the 
Jewish writers of the time — Philo and Josephus — pass over 
Christianity with a remarkable silence; while, for this whole 
period, the Talmud gives no account of the new phenomenon 
which had appeared on the scene of Jewish life 1 . Our know- 
ledge of this part of the subject is thus derived, first, from 
the professedly historical records, the four Gospels and the 
Acts of the Apostles; secondly, from the Apostolic Epistles 
and the Revelation of St John, so far as they expressly deal 
with or unconsciously exhibit the relation of the early Chris- 
tians to Judaism; and, thirdly, from any later accounts of the 
state of parties or customs of the time 2 . 

To the last class of authorities but little importance can 
be attached. They are valuable as unintentionally portray- 
ing the age in which they were written, rather than for any 
accurate information they give as to that they take in hand 
to describe. Destitute of the historic sense, their authors can 
be trusted only when confirmed by older writers, and then 
they are not needed. 

1 M. Joel, Bliche in die Religionsgeschichte zu Anfang dee zweiten chrisU 
lichen Jahrhunderts (1880), pp. ii., 29. 

2 Cf. Eitschl, Alt-kath. Kirche, 2nd ed., p. 108. 

S. H. E. 2 


One of the best examples of this class of testimonies 
is the well-known account of James the 'Lord's brother' 
given by Hegesippus and preserved by Eusebius 1 . In this 
account characteristics predominantly Essene in their nature 
are, with great detail, ascribed to James the Just 2 ; and, 
from this, large inferences have been made as to the practices 
of the early Church. It is well to remark, however, that 
even were the account to be entirely depended upon, it 
would only be the description of the idiosyncracies of an 
individual, not of the customs of a community. For the 
assertion of Graetz 8 that in these alleged peculiarities James 
was the model of the early Church is altogether without 
foundation in fact. But the story itself is unworthy of 
credit. For it contains traits altogether inconsistent with 
the customs of the Essenes (fiakaveico ovrc i^p7]craro) as 
described by Josephus 4 , as well as with what we otherwise 
know of James (eXcuov ovk tfXeityaTo) from the Epistle 
bearing his name 5 , which has at least as good claims to 
be received as genuine as the account of Hegesippus has 
to be regarded as authentic. And from one sentence at 
any rate — tovtcq fiovw e%f}v eh ra ayia elcrUvai — we can 
easily see how untrustworthy the whole account is. For 
the Temple was open not only to James, but to the apostles 
and to all the Jews. Nor can the story be defended by 
supposing that it was the inner sanctuary — the wyta cuyicov — , 

1 H. E. ii. 23. 

2 One of these characteristics — the abstinence from animal food — is also 
recorded of St Matthew, but by an even later authority, Clem. Alex. ; cf. 
Ritschl, p. 224. 

3 Gesch. d. Juden, in. 250. 

4 'AttoXoiWtcu to (TW/ua \pvxpoh vScuri, Jos. B. J. n. 8, § 5. Schwegler (Das 
nachapostolische Zeitalter, i. 141), can only defend the above passage of the 
description by saying that James avoided all effeminacy. 

5 v. 14 : d\d\pavT€s avrbv iXaly ev r<p rod Kvptov. What James 
recommended to others could hardly have been abhorrent to himself. 


not merely the Temple, that was meant. For James was 
not of priestly race and thus could not have had either the 
exclusive entry or the entry at all into the holy of holies. 
The passage is only explicable on the supposition, either that 
when it was written James had already come to be regarded 
as having been high-priest 1 , or that the Christians of the 
time and party from which the story emanated, were ex- 
cluded from the national worship and thus came to fable it 
of James that he alone (of their sect) had been admitted 
to the Temple. In either case the historic back-ground of 
the picture shews it to have originated in the post-apostolic, 
not in the apostolic age. 

Hegesippus, who flourished about the middle of the 
second century, is supposed by many critics to have be- 
longed to the Ebionite party, and, whether this be the case 
or not, the description of James contained in his work is 
probably an Ebionite tradition, the author of which would 
no doubt be anxious to gain countenance for the customs of 
his sect by representing them as having been practised by 
James the Lord's brother who presided at the Council of 
Jerusalem mentioned in Acts xv., and who had already come 
to be looked upon at the time when Hegesippus wrote, or 
shortly afterwards, as having been, after the ascension of 
Christ, duly appointed by apostolic vote "Bishop of Jeru- 
salem 2 ." Just in the same way the pseudo-Clementine 
Homilies and Recognitions favour us with a description of 
Peter, different indeed in its details from the above, but 
springing from a similar motive and about as trustworthy. 

1 Epiphanius, Adv. Haereses, Haer. 78, §§ 13, 14. 

2 Heges. in Ens. H. E. n. 23: *ea& X arat rfy iKkKrptar fierd, rw airo- 
(ttoXujv 6 d8e\<pos tov Kvplov 'IaKWjSos* cf. Clem. Alex, in Eus. H. E., u. 1. 
The above against Schwegler (Nachap. Zeitalter, i. 23), who says there is no 
ground for regarding the story of Hegesippus as fictitious. 



For the materials of our investigation we are thus forced 
to fall back on the New Testament writings. These may 
be divided into two classes: (1) the professedly historical 
documents, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles ; and 
(2) the other writings, including the Revelation of St John 
and the Epistles, the object of which is for the most part 
hortatory or doctrinal rather than narrative, though they 
contain historical information often only more valuable 
because recorded incidentally. 

(1) The Acts might naturally be supposed to be the 
chief source of information for the history of the apostolic 
age ; but unfortunately it is round that document that the 
chief difficulties of the investigation circle. As already 
stated at the outset, Baur's theory — by which this discussion 
is necessarily conditioned throughout — is an attempted re- 
construction not only of the history of Christianity but of the 
Christian records, and its history of the period is founded 
on its criticism of these records. Now from his critical 
examination of the various New Testament writings, Baur 
thinks himself justified in concluding that the professedly 
historical works are not, in the proper sense of the term, 
histories at all, but writings in which words that were never 
spoken and actions that never happened are attributed to 
historical personages for the purpose of lending support to 
the views held by the author or the party to which he 
belonged. In the euphemistic language of German criti- 
cism they are Tendenzschriften, — all of them either taking 
a side in the conflict between Jewish and Gentile Christians 
or else aiming at a compromise between the contending 
parties. Thus the Gospel of Matthew is a ' Jewish Christian' 
document in which Christ is represented as coming to 
enforce and fulfil the law, that of Luke is a ' Gentile Chris- 
tian' production according to which His mission was to 


annul and abolish it, while the Gospel of Mark, relying 
upon both, acts as a mediator between them. The Fourth 
or Johannine Gospel, again, is the product of a time when 
the transition is being made to the Catholic Church 1 , and in 
it the breach with Judaism is regarded as complete and even 
Paulinism is transcended 2 . 

But most of all have the Tubingen school subjected the 
Acts of the Apostles to a searching examination. And the 
works of Zeller and Schneckenburger are an evidence of 
the fact that they look upon its correct interpretation as 
the key to the whole history of primitive Christianity. It 
need hardly be said that they find it ruled by the old oppo- 
sition of Paulinism and Petrinism, while its 'purpose' or 
'tendency* is to bring the opposing parties together by 
means of a thorough-going manipulation, or rather distor- 
tion, of the whole history of the early Church, in which 
the words of Paul are put into the mouth of Peter, and 
actions which could have been performed only by the latter 
are attributed to the former — in which Paul is in many 
respects Petrinized and Peter systematically Paulinized. 

If the Acts were written with this mediating tendency 
and unhistorical throughout, it seems to me inexplicable 
how, at the time when it appeared, it could have escaped 
criticism on that point from the Ebionites or extreme 
' Jewish Christian ' party who refused all compromise with 
the Gentile Christians. Yet so far were they from suspect- 
ing the authenticity or historical accuracy of this work, 
that Irenaeus, writing about 180 A.D., could charge them 
with inconsistency for disparaging the authority of St Paul 
without rejecting the testimony of St Luke in the Acts 

1 Baur, Kirchengeschiclite der drei ersten Jahrhunderte, 3rd ed., p. 147. 

2 Baur, A'. G., pp. 170 f. 


according to which he was declared by God to be chosen to 
bear His name to the Gentiles 1 . 

Baur's theory of the untrust worthiness of the Acts is 
founded mainly on the alleged discrepancies between it 
and the historical details of Galatians i. and ii.; but though, 
I suppose, no competent critic will deny that the mutual 
relation of the two narratives raises points of very great 
difficulty, yet it would appear that if one theory of this 
relation is psychologically impossible it is the extreme 
view of the Acts adopted by the Tubingen school. Nor 
is this a question depending on the date at which that 
work may have been written. For the earlier its origin 
the greater number of persons would there be still alive 
who had taken part in, or at least had had accurate informa- 
tion from actors and eye-witnesses of, the real facts of the 
apostles' history, and the less likely would the author have 
been to fabricate a story whose falsehood could have been 
so easily detected and would infallibly have been exposed; 
while, on the other hand, the later its origin, the more 
public and widely known must the Epistle to the Galatians 
have become, and the more inconceivable is it that the 
author of the Acts should have deliberately and unne- 
cessarily run counter (as, on Baur's reading of the document, 
he does on several occasions run counter both deliberately 
and unnecessarily) not only to apostolic authority, but to the 
evidence of one who had taken a leading part in the events 
he narrates. 

At the same time, in the present state of critical opinion 
both as to the Acts and as to the Gospels, it is necessary 

1 Adv. Haer.j in. 15, § 1. This is not inconsistent with the information 
we owe to Eusebius (H. E. in. 27) and others that the only authoritative 
Scripture of the Ebionites was the Gospel of the Hebrews. The Ebionites 
did not look on the Acts as authoritative, but they do not seem to have sus- 
pected its historical character. 


that the evidence drawn from them should not be indis- 
criminately mixed up with the testimony of writings whose 
genuineness and authenticity is universally acknowledged. 
It is true that, for a complete and ultimate discussion of 
the question, a critical examination of the authorities must 
first be carried through. But it is evident that such an 
inquiry, extending as it does over the whole field of New 
Testament Introduction, would be impossible here. And, 
if this essay has any value at all, it will be because it does 
not take postulates for granted which no opponent is likely 
to admit, but tries to reach its conclusions by starting 
from common ground and working along lines of argument 
the validity of which will not be denied. 

(2) No critic, however bold, has attacked the genuine- 
ness of the leading Epistles of the New Testament Canon, 
and in relying upon them we are thus on safe ground. 
The four 'universally received' Epistles of St Paul — 
Galatians, First 1 and Second Corinthians, and Eomans — 
would themselves enable us almost to reconstruct the history 
of Apostolic Christianity and the system of Christian doc- 
trine, were the rest of the Canon lost. The Epistle to 
the Philippians, too, though rejected by Baur on account 
of its pronounced expressions on the divinity of Christ, is 
now generally admitted as the work of St Paul, while the 
tendency of recent criticism is to bring within the cate- 
gory of genuine writings other Epistles which bear his 
name. Thus Hilgenfeld, who is perhaps the most prominent 
living representative of Baur's critical school, accepts not 
only Philippians, but also First Thessalonians and the 

i Graetz's rejection of 1 Cor. (Gesch. d. Juden. iv. 80 n.), founded as it is 
on a fanciful interpretation of a single phrase, has not found favour with 
critics. Besides, 1 Maccab. i. 15 shows that the practice referred to by Graetz 
was known long before the post -apostolic age. 


Epistle to Philemon. The Epistle to the Hebrews, though 
not by Paul himself, was undoubtedly composed within a 
few years after his death. And according to Ritschl, who, 
in the second edition of his work on the ' Old Catholic 
Church/ frankly relinquished the Tubingen standpoint he 
had previously occupied, both the Epistle of James and the 
First Epistle of Peter can successfully vindicate their claim 
to apostolic authorship. These Epistles are of importance 
here as coming from the pens of the two disciples who stood, 
along with John, at the head of the early Church in Jeru- 
salem. To the above writings we must add the Revelation 
of St John, which, written long before the Epistles and 
Gospel ascribed to him, is regarded by Baur as proving the 
Ebionite character and tendency of the primitive Christian 
community, and has thus great prominence given to it by him. 
The works which will be chiefly drawn upon in the 
sequel are — for the above reason — those which all critics, 
whatever their theological leanings may be, are agreed in 

The above discussion of authorities — tedious as I am 
afraid it may appear — will not have been misplaced if it has 
succeeded in obviating some preliminary difficulties and has 
made the way clear for exhibiting the points of relation 
between the Jewish Christians of the apostolic age and 

The development of this relation may be traced through 
three stages : 1°, There is the original element of difference 
which distinguished the first disciples from other Jews and 
in virtue of which they were Christians — an element not at 
first recognized by them in all its bearings and in its far- 
reaching implications, but which ultimately and necessarily 
broke through the outer web of external circumstance and 


traditional custom by which it was enveloped. 2°, There is 
this network of legal observances, adhered to by Jewish 
Christians equally with Jews, even when they saw how 
utterly it was bereft of significance by the new law of 
liberty they had come under, while it was regarded by the 
extreme party (by the 'Jewish Christians ' in the sense of 
Baur) as essential to Christian communion. 3°, There is the 
process by which the new element introduced by Christianity 
and differentiating its adherents from unbelieving Jews 
separated itself from the ritual and customs of Judaism in 
the midst of which it had originated, and through conflict 
with these and schism within the Church itself, constructed 
an organization of its own which confirmed its separation 
from the parent stem. 

These three stages do not of course follow one another in 
strict chronological sequence. The first and second are, 
indeed, naturally co-incident in time, while symptoms of the 
third stage, in which the two previous tendencies come into 
collision, begin to appear very early in the Church's history. 
They are rather elements which were never entirely separated 
in reality, though, by keeping them distinct in thought, we 
may gain a clearer view of the process by which the fulfilled 
Messianic idea perfected Judaism and annulled it, while 
those who had no eyes for this spiritual dialectic, but tried 
to remain both Jews and Christians, succeeded only, as 
Jerome says, in being neither Jews nor Christians. 

1. It is hardly necessary to state that it was the recog- 
nition of Jesus as the Messiah that distinguished the believ- 
ing disciples from their unbelieving fellow-countrymen. " Had 
no new development taken place," says Baur 1 , the only differ- 
ence between them "would have been that the former 
regarded the Messiah as having come already, the latter 
* K. G., p. 40. 


looked on Him as still to come." And, could the belief in 
the Messiahship of Jesus be regarded as a mere abstract 
formula, this statement would be both accurate and complete. 
But one cannot help feeling it as a want in Baur's profound 
and suggestive treatises on early Christianity that the per- 
sonal influence of the Founder over the thought and lives of 
his followers is not sufficiently acknowledged, or, rather, that 
the acknowledgment of it has not its full sweep allowed it in 
the development of the history. "How soon," exclaims 
Baur himself 1 , " must all the true and weighty precepts of 
Christianity have been numbered with the faint echoes of 
words spoken by many a friend of humanity and philosophic 
sage of ancient times had not its doctrines been made words 
of eternal life in the mouth of its Founder." And again : 
"Had not the Messianic idea, the idea in which Jewish 
national hopes had their profoundest expression, fixed itself 
on the person of Jesus, and caused him to be regarded as the 
Messiah who had come for the redemption of His people, 
and in whom the promise to the fathers was fulfilled, the 
belief in Him could never have had a power of such far- 
reaching influence in history. It was in the Messianic idea 
that the spiritual contents of Christianity were clothed on 
with the concrete form in which it could enter on the path 
of historical development V Two elements were thus neces- 
sary : the Jewish Messianic idea, and the personal character 
and influence of Christ. But all the evidence goes to show 
that He elevated and spiritualized it, rather than that it 
exercised a " cramping and narrowing " influence upon Him. 
We must remember too, that however much this idea may 
have been materialized and degraded during recent times 
when the independence of the state and revenge on the 

1 K. <?., p. 36. The translation is from the version edited by Mr Menzies. 
3 Ibid., p. 47. 


Romans were the highest thoughts and thus the Messianic 
idea of the leaders of the people, it had had a more spiritual 
meaning and a wider application in the golden days of 
Hebrew prophecy. 

It is not contended that in the early Church there was 
a uniformly lofty Messianic idea. The gospel histories shew 
plainly enough how deeply the original apostles were imbued 
with the narrower conception of their time; but they also 
shew how persistently Jesus sought to widen and elevate it. 
But a decisive shock to the belief of many in the Messiahship 
of Jesus must have been given by the events which brought 
His earthly career to a close. A crucified Messiah was a 
stumbling-block to the Jews: a dead Messiah an impossi- 
bility. The disciples must either relinquish their belief in 
Jesus as the Messiah or they must also believe that in His 
own person He had conquered death. Even if they had 
seen nothing in Him before but the characteristics of a 
Hebrew prophet, those who remained faithful must acknow- 
ledge a unique virtue in the risen Christ. Thus it came 
about that the Messianic idea of the followers of Jesus had a 
real fulfilment, whereas that of the other Jews was a barren 
expectation, as well as a breadth of moral and spiritual 
content and a capacity for development which forced those 
who possessed it — or, rather, those who were possessed by it — 
far beyond Judaism. 

This higher idea of Christ was not, of course, the expressed 
conviction of all his disciples, but it was implied in the Chris- 
tian profession of the time, though there were no doubt 
various degrees in the measure of clearness with which it was 
recognized. No Jew could now be a Christian without 
believing in the resurrection of Jesus, and thus implicitly 
accepting all that that belief involved. It is true that the 
early disciples, even the apostles, may have expected a speedy 


return of the Lord from heaven and His assumption of tem- 
poral sway, but even the writings which go to prove that 
they did so are far beyond the standpoint of the Ebionitism 
which denied the supernatural and divine character of Christ. 
The Apocalypse is one of the five New Testament writings 
accepted by Baur as genuine, and is regarded by him as 
occupying Ebionite ground. Yet that document lends no 
support to either of the two characteristic Ebionite views. 
For, on the one hand, it contains no word asserting the con- 
tinued binding force of the law, while, on the other hand, it 
recognizes in the most distinct terms both the divine per- 
sonality and the peculiar functions of Christ. He is there 
spoken of as 'the first and the last/ who is 'alive for evermore' 
(i. 17, 18), and who is worshipped by the four and twenty 
elders (v. 14). In many other passages He is directly asso- 
ciated with God; the great company of the redeemed cry 
'salvation to our God which sitteth on the throne and unto 
the Lamb' (vii. 10); we read of those 'that keep the com- 
mandments of God and the faith of Jesus' (xiv. 12), and of 
those who 'shall be priests of God and of Christ' (xx. 6). He 
is further called the 'Lord of lords and King of kings' (xvii. 
14; xix. 16). He is the apyrj tt)? KTicrem rod 6eov (iii. 14), and 
even, in words which are sometimes regarded as having been 
introduced into Christian literature by the Fourth Gospel, 
as 6 X0709 tov deov (xix. 13). That these are not mere titles 
affixed externally to Christ's person, as Baur somewhat per- 
versely maintains 1 , is shewn by the remarkable utterances as 
to His functions by which they are accompanied. He is the 
judge who sitteth on the white cloud 'having on his head a 
golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle' (xiv. 14), and 
who has 'the keys of death and of Hades' (i. 18). Still more 
remarkable is the significance attributed to the death of the 

1 K. G., pp. 316 f. 


'Lamb... as though it had been slain' (v. 6). It is 'because 
of the blood of the Lamb' that the brethren 'overcame... the 
accuser* (xii. 11); and He is addressed as having 'loosed us 
from our sins by his blood ' (i. 5; cf. v. 9, vii. 14). This is 
not the language of a leader of the Ebionites as Baur and 
Graetz maintain the Apostle John to have been 1 . 

It seems scarcely necessary to prove that similar views of 
Christ's person and work are held by St Paul. Yet Baur 
rejects the Epistle to the Philippians on account of its explicit 
teaching on the divinity of Christ. The same reason should 
have induced him to set all historical evidence at defiance 
and get rid of the four admitted Epistles as well. For in 
them Christ is regarded as 'the Son of God 2 ,' 'the Lord of 
glory 8 .' He is also conceived as at once the Judge of the 
world — 'we must all be made manifest before the judgment- 
seat of Christ 4 ' — and the Redeemer who 'redeemed us from 
the curse of the law, having become a curse for us 5 / who 
'hath been sacrificed' as 'our passover 6 ,' and in whom 'God 
was..., reconciling the world unto himself 7 .' 

The same conception of Christ as the paschal lamb which 
is found in St John and St Paul meets us also in the First 
Epistle of St Peter 8 , who, along with John and James the 
Lord's brother, stood at the head of the early Church in 
Jerusalem; while, in their Epistles, both Peter and James 
seem to have passed beyond the stage in which observance of 
the Mosaic law was still looked upon as essential 9 : circum- 

1 Cf. Graetz, in. 250 : * Neben ihm [Jakobus dem Frommen] standen der 
ersten ebionitischen Gemeinde vor : Simon Kephas oder Petrus ben Jonas 
und Johannes b. Zebedai.' 

2 Eom. i. 3, 4. 3 1 Cor. ii. 8. 
* 2 Cor. v. 10 ; cf . Eom. xiv. 10. 

s Gal. iii. 13. 6 1 Cor. v. 7. 7 2 Cor. v. 19. 

8 i. 18 f. : Et'Sores oTi...i\vTp&07)Te...TifJLl<j) dtfian ws dfivov dpLW/Mov nal 

,J Cf. Eitscbl, pp. 115, 119. 


cision and Sabbath and feast-day are no longer regarded as 
requiring even mention. 

Ideas such as the above are both far beyond the current 
Judaism of the day and far in advance of the conceptions 
of the so-called 'Jewish Christians' who sought to retain 
the Jewish standpoint along with a belief of some kind in 
Christ. The Ebionites held Christ to have been a mere 
man; not only Paul, but also the < pillar-apostles 1 / ascribed 
to Him divine attributes. The former maintained that He 
had come to ratify and re-enact the law; the latter, in 
regarding Him as the paschal lamb slain for the sins of the 
world, held that He had fulfilled and abrogated it, introduc- 
ing a new covenant in its stead 2 . 

"If," says Schwegler 3 , "Christianity was looked upon 
simply as the continuation and last stage of the Old Testa- 
ment Judaism, it follows that the person of Christ was 
placed only in the order and line of the Old Testament 
prophets." But since we have seen that the person of 
Christ was placed outside and above that order and line, 
we have on Schwegler's own premiss a right to conclude 
that, if Christianity is to be regarded as the last stage 
of Judaism, it was a last stage in which the whole previous 
history was summed up and transcended. 

The documents from which the proof of these allegations 
has been drawn, belong, however, to the close of the apos- 
tolic age, and the doctrinal positions so clearly stated then 
were not necessarily present to the authors throughout the 
period, and were no doubt matured by the experiences they 
passed through. How far they underwent a process of 
development will, to some extent, appear when we come to 
consider the story of the conflict in which the new idea and 

1 01 doKovvres ctvXol ehcu, Gal. ii. 9. 

2 Cf. Kitschl, p. 122. 3 ^fachap. Zeitalter, i. 100. 


old customs came into collision. But we may see in the 
early preaching of the resurrection and its historical con- 
sequences how from the first the original apostles were 
differentiated from the Jews. 

(1) For, in the first place, the new creed had a mission- 
ary and aggressive character 1 . I am not speaking at present 
of the extent of these missionary operations of the primitive 
Church. But the very fact that the early apostles attempted 
in season and out of season to make converts marked them 
out as peculiar among Jewish sects. The Essenes lived by 
themselves ; the Sadducees held aloof from the people ; the 
Pharisees, secure in the adherence of the great body of the 
nation, appear not to have interfered much with the other 
sects 2 . And the apostles seem to have acted in defiance 
of all Jewish etiquette when ' every day, in the temple and 
at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as 
the ChristV 

(2) The natural consequence followed : the early Chris- 
tians were persecuted. Sadducees and Pharisees joined in 
an attempt to crush these new religionists who thus threat- 
ened 'to turn the world upside downV Though this is both 
presupposed and asserted in the writings of St Paul, the 
direct evidence for the particular instances of persecution is, 
of course, taken from the Acts. But it is scarcely conceiv- 
able how even one who like Graetz denies its historical 
character, should assert that the relation between Jewish 
Christians and Jews was one of mutual toleration 5 . 

1 Acts iv. 2, etc. 

2 Matth. xxiii. 15 seems to refer to proselytizing those outside Judaism, 
though Graetz, Gesch. d. Juden, iv. 109, says its meaning is still obscure. 
See, however, ibid, in. 211, 309. 

3 Acts v. 42. 

4 Acts xvii. 6. 

5 Gesch. d. Juden, iv. 88 ; but cf. in. 313. 


It is hardly possible to believe that the coalition of 
Sadducees and Pharisees that procured the crucifixion of 
Jesus should have allowed His immediate followers openly 
to teach His Messiahship. It may, of course, be true that, 
after the conflict in the Church which followed the admis- 
sion of Gentiles, the extreme Jewish Christian party may 
have been viewed with some favour by their unbelieving 
brethren ; though, if so, the favour was of very short dura- 
tion. But Gentiles were not admitted in any numbers to 
the Church till after the persecution that followed the death 
of Stephen, and disputed questions as to the terms of their 
admission do not seem to have arisen for some years subse- 
quently. Nor is it at all likely that this persecution was 
aimed only at the Hellenists as Baur asserts 1 . For Paul, 
himself a Hellenist, was one of its leaders, and it was by 
Hellenists that the prosecution of Stephen, and, at a sub- 
sequent period, that of Paul, were initiated 2 . Nor, again, 
is Baur's other assertion that Stephen was the first opponent 
of Judaism 3 — if so, why did the 'Hebrews' leave it to the 
Hellenists to take action against him? — consistent with the 
remark he had just made, that he was condemned on the 
same grounds as Jesus. 

(3) Brought together by their missionary operations and 
by the persecutions of hostile fellow-countrymen, the early 
Christians thus not only soon came to be looked upon as a 
distinct Jewish sect 4 , but had from the first and were forced 
to develop an organization of their own, distinct from that 
of the Jewish community by which they were surrounded 5 . 
Formed on the analogy of the Jewish synagogue and pos- 

1 K. G., p. 43. 2 Acts vi< 9> ix> 29. 

3 K. G., p. 42-3. 4 Acts xxiv> 5 

5 Cf. Eothe, Anfdnge der christlichen Kirche und ihrer Verfassung (1837), 
pp. 146 ff. ; and Cunningham's Churches of Asia (1880). 


sessing its democratic constitution, this organization was 
yet sufficient both to increase the unity of the Christian 
party among themselves, and to signify to the world their 
difference from other Jews. 

2. But while all this shows us how deeply the Messianic 
idea had taken root in the minds of the early disciples, how 
naturally and necessarily it led them outside the circle of 
Jewish observances, they still maintained their obedience to 
the Mosaic law and frequented the Temple worship. Their 
belief in the Messiahship of Jesus, which perfected their 
national consciousness and transcended it, did not seem to 
them to come into conflict with their national customs 1 . 
Perhaps it is no exaggeration to say that the early Christians 
were Jews first and Christians afterwards in more than the 
sequence of their own experience. They did not indeed 
value their Christianity less than their Jewish nationality ; 
but they had not yet learned even in thought to separate 
them. It did not at first occur to them that the Messianic 
promise could be fulfilled to those who had never had the 
Messianic hope, or that the Gentiles could receive adoption 
into the new covenant, without passing into it, as they 
themselves had done, through the gateway of the old. 

The early Christians had all been admitted by circumci- 
sion members of the old covenant, and they still retained the 
customs it involved: kept the Sabbath, observed the laws as 
to food 2 , and frequented the worship of the Temple 3 — and that 
not merely from the opportunities of preaching it afforded 4 . 
In the appointment of the seven deacons they followed 
a practice usual in every Jewish community 6 , while for the 

1 Cf. Baur, Paulus, der Apostel Jem Christi, 2nd ed., i. 49. 

2 Acts x. 14. s Actg ii# 46) yj -^ etc 

4 Acts xxii. 17, xxiv. 11—12. 5 Graetz, in. 249. 

S. H. E. 3 


peculiar institution of community of goods, which certainly 
prevailed for a considerable time and to a large extent among 
them 1 , they had a precedent in the customs of the Essenes. 
Even their sacred rites of baptism and the Lord's Supper 
were founded upon Jewish ordinances 2 . But these rites now 
obtained a new meaning, and had an organic connection with 
the Christian principle, whereas the custom of circumcision, 
the laws of food, and the whole ceremonial regulations of the 
Mosaic law, had no natural or necessary relation to it, and 
thus lost their significance. 

3. As long as the Church continued to consist entirely 
or almost entirely of Jews, the performance of these regula- 
lations would not be felt as an oppressive burden. But when 
the Gospel came to be preached to increasing numbers of 
Gentiles, the latter would be unable to see why in adopting 
the Christian principle they must needs submit themselves 
to Jewish customs, and a conflict was bound to ensue. The 
Church of Jerusalem had come to no decision beforehand^as 
to how this emergency was to be met when it should arise. 
Their idea seems to have been that the Jews should first as 
a united nation be brought to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, 
and that the conversion of the Gentiles should only then be 
undertaken 8 . It is true that, according to the Acts, the 
older apostles not only preached the Gospel to the Samari- 
tans (viii. 5 ff.), but Peter received Cornelius into the Church 
(x.), and Philip the Aethiopian Eunuch (viii. 27 ff.), and that 
simply by the rite of baptism and without subjecting them to 

1 Actsii. 44 f., iv. 32 f. 

2 Poverty, it may be well to remark as against Graetz, in. 249, was not 
one of their characteristics (cf. Acts iv. 34), though it may have given a name 
to the Ebionites. 

3 Acts ii. 39 ; Bev. xiv. 4 (application of expression dwapxv ?$ 6e$ /cat r£ 
apvlt$)\ James i. 18; cf. Bitschl, p. 141. 


the conditions of the Mosaic law, though both the converts 
were mere Proselytes of the Gate (evaeftets). But these 
actions are represented as having been undertaken by special 
revelation, and, even as it was, excited no little suspicion 
amongst, and even opposition from, the strict Jews, oi etc 
7T€piTo/jLf}<; (xi. 23). There was, moreover, in their desire to 
win over to their faith their non-Christian Jewish brethren, a 
strong inducement for the early disciples, not to enter rashly 
upon a general proclamation of the Gospel to the Gentile 
races 1 . 

But what the apostles almost seem to have avoided came 
about without their connivance, and without their having the 
opportunity of prescribing the conditions under which it 
should take place. Amongst those driven from Jerusalem 
by the persecution which arose about Stephen were some 
'men of Cyprus and Cyrene* — Hellenists therefore — who, on 
coming to Antioch, 'spake unto the Greeks 2 also, preaching 
the Lord Jesus' with such success that 'a great number that 
believed turned unto the Lord/ The importance of this step 
can hardly be over-estimated. What for Philip and Peter 
had been merely exceptional was thus made a general prin- 
ciple of conduct : the Gospel was not merely preached to the 
Gentiles — to Gentiles, too, who did not even conform to the 
conditions of Proselytism of the Gate, were not even evae- 
/3€?<? — , but they were (as the history evidently implies) ad- 
mitted into the Church without coming under the Mosaic 
law. The novelty of this proceeding excited some attention 
at Jerusalem — whether opposition as well does not at first 
appear — and the Church sent Barnabas, a Hellenist, to inquire 
into the state of affairs. His report was favourable, and no 
further action was taken in the matter ; and it was not till 

1 Gieseler, K. G. f §28. 

2 Acts xi. 20 — reading of course "EXX^as, not 'EXX^urrds (T. E.). 



long afterwards that Paul had to vindicate against 'false 
brethren 1 ' a similar liberty before the 'pillar-apostles' at Jeru- 

Paul had been brought to Antioch by Barnabas just after 
the notable events of which that town had been the scene, 
had remained there a year, and, after a short visit to Jerusa- 
lem, had along with Barnabas undertaken his first missionary 
journey. It was on that journey, after repeated rebuffs from 
the Jews, that they openly announced their intention 2 of 
turning from them to what Paul regarded as his special 
mission 3 — the preaching to the Gentiles. 

Between this decisive step on the part of Paul and the 
events related in Acts xv. and Galatians ii. a considerable 
interval elapsed 4 sufficient to allow the party in the Church 
which had gradually been forming time to take up definite 
ground against him. 

In considering the events that followed as bearing on the 
relation held by the early Christians to Judaism, I shall 
restrict myself to the narrative of Paul himself in Gala- 
tians ii. 

The Epistle to the Galatians, written between 54 and 
57 A.D. and recording events which happened only two or 
three years before (according to Conybeare and Howson, in 
50 A.D.), is the first authentic testimony we have of a party 

* Gal. ii. 4. 

2 Acts xiii. 46 ; cf. xvii. 6. 

* Gal. i. 16. 

4 The exact length of time is hard to determine, partly from the difficulty 
of saying whether the " fourteen years" of Gal. ii. 1 date from Paul's con- 
version or from his first coming to Jerusalem, partly from the Jewish 
method of reckoning, which makes " fourteen years" an ambiguous expression. 
I assume as proved the identity of the Jerusalem-visit of Gal. ii. with that of 
Acts xv. Both these subjects are fully discussed in Conybeare and Howson' s 
Life and Epistles of St Paul, App. i. and App. in., Note (B) ; cf. Baur's 
Paulus, I. 120 ff. 


in the Church which demanded that all Christians must 
conform to the ritual of Judaism — of ' Jewish Christians ' in 
the technical sense of the Tubingen school, or, as they are 
otherwise called, ' Judaizers.' Baur says that l Jewish Chris- 
tianity ' is here for the first time divided into a stricter and a 
broader party ; but not only is it the case (as will soon be 
shewn) that only one of the parties here deserves the name 
of ' Jewish Christian ' in his sense of the term, but * Jewish 
Christianity ' itself (in this sense) now for the first time 
makes a public appearance. The tendencies which it repre- 
sents must no doubt have been all the while present, though 
latent, in the Church at Jerusalem ; but that they were not the 
prevailing sentiments is shewn not only by their having been 
expressed by no one individual whose name is known to 
history, but also by the fact that (whether we accept the 
testimony of the Acts or not) the admission of Gentiles to 
the Church must have been carried on by Paul and his 
companions for a considerable time before their proceedings 
were challenged. 

At the conference at Jerusalem — fraught with such 
important consequences for the future that it is usually 
spoken of as the first Christian Council — there were, besides 
the heads of the Church there (James, Peter and John), two 
opposing parties occupying a perfectly intelligible but mu- 
tually antagonistic position. There was the 'Jewish Chris- 
tian ' or ' Judaizing ' party who contended that the Gentiles 
must keep the whole Mosaic law and, as an example and 
pledge of this, demanded the circumcision of Titus, a young 
Greek convert whom Paul had brought with him. This 
initiatory rite always entailed the performance of the remain- 
ing conditions of the law, and, without it, — the Jewish 
doctors taught 1 — the fulfilment of these is unavailing, for the 
1 Ferd. Weber, op. ctt. y p. 66. 


law which brings life to Israel is death to the heathen. In 
demanding the circumcision of Titus, therefore, this party 
demanded the Judaizing of the Gentile Christian churches 
which Paul was so successfully building up. This demand 
was not only refused in the most uncompromising manner 
by the apostle of the Gentiles, but those who made it were 
stigmatized by him as ' false brethren privily brought in who 
came in privily to spy out our liberty/ They had evidently 
gone up to Antioch to inspect Paul's doings there and had 
thus made him determine on his journey to Jerusalem 1 to 
explain /car ihlav to the leaders of the Church there (toa9 
Sokov<tl) the gospel he preached to the Gentiles. The view 
on which he acted was that the Christian principle had made 
circumcision and all such ordinances matters of indifference. 
But he made no demand for the Church at Jerusalem to 
throw off Jewish customs. On the contrary, in an Epistle 
written at no great distance of time from this, he says that 
to the Jews he himself became a Jew that he might gain the 
Jews 2 — a remark which may or may not refer to an occasion 
on which, according to Acts xxi. 26, he actually did so, but 
which certainly stamps with his approval the conduct of the 
congregation at Jerusalem in conforming to Jewish customs 
as long as they had the hope of gaining over their brethren. 

From some expressions he uses, Paul seems to have been 
doubtful as to the course the older apostles would take on 
the question at issue. But, on the only point before them, 
they decided thoroughly in his favour, being convinced that 
the work done by him among the Gentiles had as certain an 
evidence of divine approval as the work done by them among 
the Jews, that an evayyeXcov t^9 dtcpofivo-Tias had been com- 

1 This is of course not inconsistent with his own view that he went up 
/card dwoKahvipiv, Gal. ii. 2. 

2 1 Cor. ix. 20. 


mitted to him just as the evayy&Xiov rf}$ TrepirofiT]? had been 
entrusted to Peter, since the same spirit worked in both 1 . 
And it is almost inconceivable how, in the face of this, Baur 
should say 2 that Paul's doctrine of freedom from the law 
separated him from the * pillar-apostles ' as well as from the 
Jews, or should have committed himself to the statement 
that if the older apostles agreed with the principles of Paul's 
evayyekiov ttjs dfcpoftvoria? it was their duty to turn their 
attention henceforth to the conversion of the Gentiles 8 (leav- 
ing, I suppose, the Jews to their fate), as if the division of 
apostolic fields of labour were inconsistent with unity of 
apostolic aim and spirit. 

The only condition Paul records as having been exacted 
by the older apostles, and one which was cordially accepted 
by him, was that the Gentile churches he founded should 
not relinquish that custom inherited from Judaism, and 
which has never ceased to be distinctive of the Christian 
Church — the care of the poor — , and should give proof of 
their unity and sympathy with the Palestinian Jews by 
helping to relieve the distress which famine had caused 
among the poorer brethren of Judaea. 

According, however, to the account given in Acts xv., a 
formal decree was issued on the occasion ratifying the Chris- 
tian liberty of the Gentile churches but also requiring their 
abstinence from certain Gentile customs which were particu- 
larly obnoxious to Jews, and which had probably been made 
the subject of special complaint by the Judaizers, the condi- 
tions enjoined being, perhaps, though the point is not quite 
clear, the same as those exacted from Proselytes of the Gate. 

It is not my intention to enter into the controversies 
which surround this decree, for it is of importance in tracing 

1 Gal. ii. 7, & 2 Paulus, i. 223. 

3 Paulus, i. 144. 


the relation of the Jewish to the Gentile Christians rather 
than that of the Jewish Christians to Judaism 1 . But 
although St Paul makes no express mention of it in his 
Epistles, his subsequent conduct seems to imply that an edict 
of the kind had been issued for the temporary guidance of 
the Gentile Christians in relation to their Jewish brethren 2 . 

Undiscouraged by defeat, the ' Judaizers' did not relin- 
quish their contention on account of what had happened at 
Jerusalem. Shortly after the events already recorded Peter 
seems to have followed Paul to Antioch probably with the 
intention of giving, by his personal presence among them, 
the sanction of the older apostles to the Gentile Christian 
community at that centre. At any rate we find him there 
taking part in the full social as well as religious fellowship 
which, no doubt through Paul's influence, had been estab- 
lished between the Jewish and Gentile members of the 
Church. Peter thus fell in with their new customs, till 
* certain came from James ' and, in the interests of so-called 
'Jewish Christianity,' succeeded in causing an unseemly 
quarrel in the Church. 

It is doubtful whether these Jews were sent to Antioch 
by James ; but even if they were, there seems no reason for 
supposing that they were commissioned by him to play the 
part they did 8 . We do not know what arguments they made 
use of when they appeared at Antioch ; but we may well 
believe that they did not now insist explicitly, as they had 
but recently insisted, on the Judaizing of the Gentile 

1 For the same reason no attempt is made here to discuss the questions 
raised as to the relation of Acts xv. to Gal. ii. To do so would lead into 
controversies almost interminable, and for all the purposes of this essay the 
narrative of Paul himself in the Galatians is sufficiently full. 

2 Cf. Eitschl, pp. 137 f. 

3 So Baur himself in his early essay on the ' Christuspartei,' Tub. Zeits., 
1831, iv. p. 114. 


Christians. They would, probably, rather take up the plea 
of following out literally the decision of the Council of 
Jerusalem, and assert that it was specially incumbent on 
Peter as the representative of the evayye\iov rfjs irepiTOfir}? 
to maintain the Jewish customs and refuse to sit at table 
with the Gentiles, and that all who were of Jewish birth 
should do the same. It is obvious, however, that, although 
Peter may have advanced beyond the regulations of the decree, 
he had acted fully in accordance with the spirit of a resolution 
which relegated Jewish customs to the class of things non- 
essential. But, with a weakness which cannot be said to be 
inconsistent with what we otherwise know of him, he yielded 
to the pressure and followed the intolerant example of the 
Judaizers, who led astray the other Christian Jews and even 
the Hellenist Barnabas 'by their dissimulation (vTrotcptan,?) 1 .' 
It was then that Paul 'withstood Peter to the face* (ii. 11) : 
the apostle of the d/cpofivo-Tia came into conflict with the 
apostle of the irepLTOfjur}. The tragic interest of this episode 
in which, not thirty years after its first promulgation, the 
two leaders of the religion of peace and brotherly love are 
seen face to face in open 2 feud, has naturally attached to it a 

1 Gal. ii. 13. It is not necessary here to discuss the quarrel mentioned 
in Acts xv. 37, 38 between Paul and Barnabas, because the latter * determined 
to take with them John whose surname was Mark,' whereas * Paul thought 
not good to take him with them who departed from them from Pamphylia ' 
(cf. Acts xiii. 13). Dr John Lightfoot supposes that the defection of Mark 
was due to the fact that, as a follower of Peter, he " liked not what these 
ministers of the uncircumcision did among the Gentiles" (Exer citations upon 
the First Ep. to the Cor., i. 12— Works, xn. 457, ed. of 1822—5). This is an 
interesting suggestion not only as obviating Baur's objection to the cause 
of the quarrel given in Acts xv. 37, 38, but as showing that the importance of 
the distinction between the two parties in the Church could be recognized by 
one who wrote more than a century and a half before the way had been paved 
for the Tubingen theory by modern critical methods and the Hegelian 

a "E/j-wpoffdep irdvTiav, Gal. ii. 14. 


greater significance than its theological importance merits. 
Even in the early Corinthian Church we read of a Paul- 
party and a Peter-party, while amongst some modern critics 
Paulinism and Petrinism almost become the names of different 
religions. Perhaps this exaggeration is inevitable, but it 
is certainly an exaggeration. Not that the question at issue 
was a small one; far from it. But at the same time its 
importance does not seem to have been nearly so great as 
that of the point settled at Jerusalem. Nor did Peter's 
weakness now mean the retractation of the decision he had 
given them. His action on this occasion is regarded by Paul 
himself as one simply of cowardly inconsistency between his 
conduct and the principle he had adopted; while a full 
identity of doctrinal position between the two apostles is 
assumed in the argumentative verses that follow his account 
of the dispute (ii. 16—21). 

Besides, the most noticeable fact in the story is not that 
Peter withdrew from the table at which the Gentiles sat, but 
that he went to it at all 1 — a point which Baur passes over. 
For, in so doing, he showed that in his eyes the' meaning of 
the decision given at Jerusalem was not simply that Jewish 
and Gentile Christians "agree each to go their own way 
independent of the otherV , but that it contained the 
acknowledgment that their common Christianity was a more 
fundamental principle and closer bond of union than the 
exclusive customs which bound Jew to Jew, and that, when 
the two came into collision, the latter should give way to the 
former. It was for unfaithfulness to this testimony — a testi- 
mony, however, which, once given, could not be revoked by 

1 The agreement of his conduct in so doing with what he is recorded to 
have said Acts xv. 7 — 9 deserves notice. 

2 Baur, K. G., p. 51. 


mere inconsistency — that Peter incurred the stern censure of 
his brother apostle. 

The terms in which the censure was conveyed have been 
differently understood. " If thou/' said Paul, " being a Jew, 
livest as a Gentile, and not as a Jew (iOvitca)? £#<? zeal oiic 
'lovhaiicm), why forcest thou the Gentiles to Judaize" 
ClovSatZeiv) 1 ? But though our imperfect information makes 
it difficult or impossible to tell to what the reference may be, 
the plain reading of the words seems to imply that Peter as 
well as Paul had departed from the strict observances of 
Jewish ritual in more than this matter of social intercourse 
with the Gentiles from which he was now drawing back. We 
further learn from the passage that Paul clearly saw that 
the consequence and tendency of Peter's behaviour, if un- 
checked, would have been not the mere social separation of 
Jewish from Gentile Christians, but the attempt to exact 
from the latter the observance of the whole Jewish law. 

The immediate upshot of this controversy is unknown, 
and the subsequent career of the Jewish Christian party 
during the apostolic age has to be made out from the 
slightest hints. It is evident, however, from what has been 
already said, that the older apostles did not agree with the 
demands of the extreme party — representatives of which 
were to be met with in the Jewish Christian communities of 
Asia Minor, Greece and Rome as well as in Palestine, In 
refusing to have communion with or to acknowledge as 
Christian brethren the Gentile Christians who would not 
keep the law, this party was driven into bitter antagonism 
to St Paul who had to defend his very apostleship against 
attack 2 . That in this conflict the Judaizers were altogether 
separated from the sympathies of the older apostles is 
suggested by the previous narrative and is proved by the 
1 Gal. ii. U. 2 1 Cor. ix. Iff. 


manner of St Paul's defence. For, while those who led the 
Corinthians astray are denounced by him as false apostles * 
and false brethren, the original apostles are merely spoken 
of as if they had been over-rated — virepXiav arrroaToKoi 
he calls them 2 — by being placed above himself who also 
held his commission direct from the Lord. 

The new faith professed by the apostles had to vin- 
dicate its position as the historical representative of the 
religion of Israel. It must find in itself an explanation of, 
if it did not continue, the prophetic, the legal, and the 
priestly orders. And these different parts of the Old Tes- 
tament doctrine are brought into prominence by different 
writers in the New. Thus it has been said that for Peter 
the fulfilment of prophecy is the fundamental thing in 
Judaism ; for James, and, in a different way, for Paul, the 
fulfilment of the law; while the author of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews looks from the point of view of the priesthood and 
the atonement it effected s . 

In the earlier and simpler stages of the Old Testament 
religion there does not seem to have been any distinction 
between these different systems. The prophet Moses was 
at the same time both lawgiver and priest, while the 
specialization of functions and the growth of a legal and of 
a priestly caste were the work of a later time and corre- 

1 2 Cor. xi. 13. 

2 ' So sind wohl die vwepkiav cnrwrroXoi die Apostel selbst deren Schiiler 
und Abgeordnete zu seyn, die ^evdairoaroXoL vorgaben. '— Baur in Tub. Zeits., 
Is31, iv. p. 103. The reference of the v-n-epXiav clttovtoXol to the older 
apostles is disputed by Beyschlag (Studien und Kritihen, 1865, n. 227) and 
others, while Baur afterwards held, and in this he is followed by the Tubingen 
school generally, that not only it but also the ^vdairodroXoL is levelled 
at them. 

3 Weiss, Lehrbuch der biblischen Theologie d. N. T. (1868) § 158 
p. 511. 


sponded to the needs of a more complex society. A similar 
sequence of ideas may perhaps be traced in the young 
Christian community. At first Christ is received both as 
a 'prophet like unto Moses/ and as the Messiah-king to 
whom the later prophetic literature pointed. But it was 
only afterwards, under the sharp edge of controversy, that 
the attitude of the new religion to the developed Mosaic 
law and levitical ritual was brought into prominence. Hence 
the conflict of St Paul with the legalism of the Judaizing 
Christians ; hence too the endeavour of St James to enforce 
the moral content of the Christian 'law of liberty' at 
once against the formalism of the Jewish law, and the 
antinomian followers of St Paul, to whom liberty meant 
licence, and who, knowing no law but the Jewish, thought 
that its abrogation meant the dissolution of all moral ties. 

Still later, the relation of Christianity to the old 
levitical system is dealt with in a document which, steeped 
in the ideas of sacrifice and priesthood, has had more in- 
fluence on Christian theology than any other New Testa- 
ment writing except the Epistle to the Romans. It is true, 
as has been already pointed out, that conceptions borrowed 
from the levitical order are applied to Christ in the works 
of the apostles 1 . But their general point of view is not 
the priestly, but the prophetic or the legal; whereas, in 
the Hebrews, we meet with an author who looks upon 
Judaism as, in its essence, a priestly system in which man 
is reconciled to God through sacrifice, and who consciously 
sets before himself the question, What is the significance 
of this system in the light of the Christian principle ? It 
is not necessary to assert, as Geiger so confidently does, 
that the author of the Epistle had been a Sadducee. Geiger 
says that Pharisaism, which made its influence first felt on 
1 Bev. i. 5, v. 9 ; 1 Cor. v. 7 ; 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. 


the Christian Church, contributed to it the Messianic idea 
and the belief in the resurrection, while Sadducees, in 
coming over to the young community subsequently, brought 
with them the conception of the Messiah as the High-Priest 
who by His own death made atonement for sins. This is, 
according to Geiger 1 , the fundamental idea both of the 
Hebrews and of the so-called * Testaments of the Twelve 
Patriarchs' which will come before us again in the se- 
quel. But, in the first place, the belief in the resurrection 
and the prominent angelology exhibited by the Hebrews 
are difficult to reconcile with the hypothesis of its being of 
Sadducean authorship 2 . And further, the argument of the 
Epistle — the levitical high -priesthood superseded by an 
eternal High-Priest, the daily sacrifice for atonement ren- 
dered unnecessary by a world-sacrifice once offered by 
Jesus — does not require a Sadducee to have written it. 
For a sense of the importance of, and reverence for, the 
Temple services were not confined to the Sadducees, who 
were only the leaders and official members of a system 
which had sunk deep into the national consciousness. And 
it is not unnatural to suppose that a pupil of St Paul, 
inspired with his masters idea that the law which led to 
Christ was of no further value, should apply a similar train 
of thought to the great sacrificial system of the Temple, 

Following out some such conception as this, the author 
looks on the Old Testament ritual as consummated in the 
death of Christ ; and it is just here that the interest of his 
work for our subject lies. Eiehm sees in the writer's argument 
evidence of the fact that " when he received the knowledge 
of Christ's work of salvation, he must have been already 
convinced of the inefficiency of the Old Testament sacrifice, 

1 Jiidische Zeitschrift, vn. (1869), pp. 119 ff.; xi. (1875), p. 16. 

2 Cf. Jud. Zeits. vm. 164 f. 


and accustomed to a higher consideration of the ceremonies 
of Judaism, so as to join on his Christian doctrine to his 
pre-Christian views as the last stage of their development 1 ." 
The Epistle thus shews how it is of the very essence of the 
old ritual that it should be done away with in the perfect 
sacrifice of Christ's life and death, and calls upon the 
Christian community it addresses to separate itself from 
Judaism and follow Christ ' without the camp 2 .' The exact 
significance of this striking utterance depends both on the 
circumstances of those addressed — , whether or not they were 
inhabitants of Jerusalem—, and on the time at which it was 
written — whether before or after the destruction of the 
Temple. The references the author makes to its services 
are thought by some to imply that they were still going 
on when he wrote, while others hold that the termination 
of the Jewish sacrificial system is presupposed in his point 
of view. It would be inconsistent with the plan of this 
essay to attempt to decide between these two opinions, 
or to discuss the literary questions of the date and desti- 
nation of the Epistle. But, whether occasioned by the 
threatened dissolution of the national worship or by its 
actual fall, the natural interpretation of the passage seems 
to be a clear call to the Christians of Jewish birth who still 
continued to reverence the ritual of the Temple, as well as 
to observe the worship of the Church, to come out and 
formally separate themselves from a system which had been 
consummated when Jesus was led * without the gate ' to be 

But while this was the attitude towards Judaism to 
which the catholic thought of the church tended, we have 

1 Lehrbegriff des Hebraerbriefes, new ed., 1867, p. 627. 

2 xiii. 13 : Toivvv i&pxupcQ* *"pd* avrov ££w ttjs wapeppoXrjs. 


already seen that unanimity of sentiment and conduct did 
not exist among its members. The preceding discussion has 
brought to light, in the apostolic age, three parties — as, for 
want of a better name, they may be called — of Christians who 
were born Jews. There were, first, the extreme Jewish Chris- 
tians who not only observed the law themselves, but required 
that all Christians should do so ; secondly, the original apo- 
stles and those who agreed with their position ; and, thirdly, 
Paul himself with his adherents throughout the various 
churches he founded. He contended not merely for the 
freedom of the Gentile Christians from the Jewish law but 
also for the liberty of the Jewish born Christians of the same 
community to hold fellowship with their Gentile Christian 
brethren. His enemies at Jerusalem asserted that he 
taught men everywhere against the Jews, their law, and 
their temple 1 ; and though, as they put it, this part of the 
accusation is no doubt as false as its sequel that he polluted 
the Temple by bringing a Greek into it, we can easily see 
that in one sense it was perfectly true. Paul's doctrine 
was opposed to the Xao? inasmuch as he regarded the Gen- 
tiles as co-heirs of the Christian inheritance, and himself 
expressly, in his teaching, turned from the Jews to them. 
It was opposed to the voyuo^ for he encouraged the Gentile 
converts to disregard it and even did so himself; and it 
was opposed to the ay to? to7to9, for the independent worship 
of his religion rendered its ritual unmeaning and its sacri- 
fice an anachronism. And although he could himself conform 
to Jewish customs when expediency required it 2 , he had 
evidently thrown off altogether the authority the law once 
had over his conscience, regarding it as no more than the 
pedagogue who had led him to the school of Christ and 

1 Acts xxi. 28 ; cf. xxiv. 6. 

2 Acts xvi. 3, xxi. 26 ; cf. 1 Cor. ix. 20. 


whose services could be dispensed with once he had entered 
its door 1 . The stages by which the remaining Jewish 
customs were abolished in the churches founded by him 
cannot be traced. The first step having been taken in 
violating the laws as to food, the other observances were 
probably discontinued by insensible degrees. It is certain 
at any rate that they very soon disappeared. Though the 
Paulinists had to contend with Judaism both within the 
Church and outside of it, it soon ceased to exist as a motive 
force in their own experience, and the name ' Jewish Chris- 
tian ' can no longer be rightly applied to them. 

Of the original apostles and their followers at Jerusalem 
it is harder to speak with certainty. Probably they con- 
tinued to the end — as their Master had done before them 2 
— to observe the customs of the Jewish law. Occasion has 
already been taken to dispute the accuracy of a description 
of James the Just by a writer of the second century. But 
the legend enshrined by Hegesippus had no doubt its foun- 
dation in fact, and the life he professes to depict may well 
have been one of strict legal observance and even of levitical 
purity. Yet, as has been pointed out, both James and 
Peter seem in thought to have got beyond the observances 
which they still continued to practise, and, in their Epistles, 
the particularity of the Jewish law has been done away 
with by, and resolved into the universal obligatoriness of, 
the higher 'law of liberty 3 .' Their position does not seem 
to have differed theoretically from that of St Paul, for they 
admitted, as has been shewn, that the law was not abso- 
lutely binding. But, at the same time, their practice was 

1 Gal. iii. 24. 

2 See Justin Martyr's explanation of Christ's observance of the law. Dial, 
cum Try phone , c. 67. 

3 James i. 25, ii. 12. 

S. H. E. 4 


perhaps nearer that of the Judaizers than his. They thus 
occupied a middle position between the two extreme parties. 
But there is no ground for supposing that they meant this 
attitude to be permanently held to. It was temporizing 
and therefore temporary. It was adopted not to solve the 
question of the relation of Christianity to Judaism, but to 
stave off a pressing difficulty, so that the question might 
have scope given it to work out its own solution in the 
natural course of events. And it is therefore not to be 
wondered at if the party who persisted in occupying this 
position after the close of the apostolic age made no striking 
and independent place for themselves in history. 

The extreme Jewish Christian party, on the other hand, 
refused all compromise with the Gentiles admitted into the 
Church— -both kept the law themselves and insisted that 
everyone else should do so. But, though it is certainly 
"established beyond doubt" as Pfleiderer says 1 "that the 
dogmatic standpoint of Paul's doctrine and that of the Jewish 
Christians were antagonistic in principle/' the preceding dis- 
cussion has shewn that it cannot be established in any way 
whatever that the position of these Jewish Christians in this 
matter was identical with that of the original apostles, or 
that the opinions of the latter were antagonistic in principle 
to those of St Paul. We are thus not surprised to find that, 
by the extreme views they adopted and their bitter opposi- 
tion to St Paul, these Jewish Christians soon sank into the 
position of a sect, and, at the same time, seem to have fallen 
back into, if they ever got beyond, the doctrines of that 
Judaism whose customs they could not be induced to relin- 
quish. And, although the ' Judaizers ' we have met with as 
yet were 'of the sect of the Pharisees 2 / it would seem that, 

1 Paulinism, Eng. tr., n. 23. 

2 Acts xv. 5. 


even before the close of the apostolic age, some of them had 
begun to fence about their position with the ascetic practices 
and perhaps also with the dualistic philosophy of the 
Essenes 1 , or that members of that sect converted to Chris- 
tianity had brought their old customs and views with them 
into the Church 2 . However this may be, these tendencies 
appear clearly enough in the post-apostolic age, and it is 
not till then that ' Jewish Christianity ' is to be seen in full 

1 Rom. xiv. 21 ; Col. ii. 16 ff. ; of. Baur, Paulus, i. 383 f., and Ritschl, 
p. 232 f . 

2 It is noticeable that these tendencies appeared first at Rome and 
Colosse, not at Jerusalem where the * Jewish Christians' seem to have 
remained Pharisaic till the destruction of the Temple brought them into 
contact with the Essenes. 



It is a mistake, as Baur remarks 1 , to separate the apos- 
tolic from the post-apostolic age as if there were any want of 
historical continuity between the two, and the development 
of the latter did not find its sufficient explanation in the 
tendencies already at work in the former conjoined with the 
external circumstances conditioning their growth. But, while 
this is eminently true of the Christian Church, the circum- 
stances which marked off the two periods from one another 
were such as to cause something very like a break, and to 
necessitate a new beginning, in the history of Judaism. The 
development of the Church, external as well as internal, 
went on almost as before after the removal of the apostles 
from its head. The real separation of the two periods — 
apostolic and post-apostolic — is not the death of Peter and 
Paul and James the Lord's brother somewhat before 70 A.D., 
or of John about thirty years afterwards, but is that event 
which shook Judaism to its foundations and, in a different 
way, profoundly affected the Christian Church — the destruc- 
tion of the Temple. 

To the Jews this was an event of terrific significance. 
Both politically and religiously, it seemed to mean their 

1 K. G„ p. 130. 


extinction. With the exception of the brief outburst under 
Bar Cochba sixty years later, it did put an end to their 
existence as a state ; for any other people, perhaps, it would 
also have been the death of their distinctive religion. But 
the want of political organization, and, very soon, of home 
and fatherland, seems almost to have intensified the national 
life of the Jews ; while the demolition of the only place in 
which the most sacred rites of their worship could be 
solemnized but drove them back on the moral truths which 
underlay their religious ceremonies, and made them seek a 
new pathway for the development of their creed. With a 
tenacity of life which only Jews could exhibit, they turned 
the current of their national existence into a new channel, 
and, with a wonderful instinct, they chose for it the course 
which subsequent history has shewn to be a better guard 
of national unity and racial purity than the strongest geo- 
graphical frontier or the most compact political constitution. 
The study and development of the law now gained full supre- 
macy over the other elements of Judaism. Priest as well as 
Prophet gave way to the Wise Man and the Scribe : the 
theocracy became merged in a nomocracy 1 . And hence, if 
the sacrificial temple on Mount Moriah was levelled with the 
ground, its place was supplied by a doctrinal temple, built, 
like the former, without sound of hammer or of axe, but 
which no hostile force could overthrow ; and if victims slain 
for the sins of the people no longer smoked on their altar, 
yet, at all times and from all places, the supplications of the 
chosen race could still ascend to Him who would " call their 
prayers sacrifice 2 ." 

It is to Rabbi Jochanan, a pupil of Hillel, that the credit 

1 Weber, op. cit., pp. 59 f ., 122. 

2 Justin, Dial. c. 117. Prayer was regarded by the Jews as taking the 
place of sacrifice. — Graetz, rv. 72. 


is due of having saved Judaism by yielding its political 
existence when opposition was hopeless, and bargaining for 
the continuance of its intellectual life. He obtained from 
Vespasian permission to set up a school at Jabne or Jamnia, a 
town on the coast of the Mediterranean between Joppa and 
the former Philistine settlement of Ashdod. There Jochanan 
devoted himself to the "Talmudism" of which Hillel was 
the founder — to the illustration and application of the pre- 
cepts of the law — and there his successors continued their 
labours till they had to flee from the persecution which 
followed Bar Cochba's unsuccessful revolt. 

Doctrine thus became "the soul of Judaism V the centre 
and the spring of all that was noblest in its subsequent 
history. It is hardly too much to say that it henceforth 
began to be less and less a religion, more and more a philo- 
sophy. The old aristocracy was abolished by the fall of the 
state ; the priesthood had lost its function and its place with 
the destruction of the Temple. But the influence of the 
scribes or doctors of the law, resting on no such external 
supports, was only increased by the downfall of the rival 
levitical power. While this, however, was the only way in 
which Judaism could develop as a living system, the Jews 
themselves were .variously affected by the victory of Vespa- 
sian. The mass of the people, carried away into captivity 
and sold as slaves, maintained their religious peculiarity as 
the exiled Jew had long ago learned to do. But when the 
few who were left behind saw the pledge of the divine 
presence destroyed before their eyes, it was only a section 
that followed the lead of R Jochanan, while others, dispersed 
in Syria and in Judsea, either betook themselves to an ascetic 
life, or found a substitute for their abolished sacrificial ritual 
in the Christian faith. The poll-tax (<j>6po<i roov acofidrcov) 
1 Graetz, v. 155. 


levied against the Jews by Vespasian and afterwards cruelly 
exacted by Domitian, may also have induced others to hide 
their Judaism in the new community ; while the Essenes, as 
will subsequently appear, seem about this period to have 
gone over to Christianity almost en masse, though the de- 
struction of the Temple can have had no very great effect 
upon them, as their abhorrence of sacrifice excluded them 
from its worship 1 . 

On the Christians the same event had a double influence — 
a narrower and local as well as a broader and more catholic 
effect. The Church of Jerusalem, consisting entirely of 
Christians Jewish-born and observing the Jewish law, with- 
drew at the time of the war to Pella, one of the ten towns 
(Decapolis) on the east side of the Jordan and inhabited by 
Gentiles, but returned after the siege and founded a Jewish 
Christian Church on the ruins of Jerusalem, with Symeon, a 
relative of Christ's, at its head*. It is not the case, as Rothe 
supposes, that the mass of the Jewish Christians, bent under 
the divine judgment on Judaism, henceforth gave up their 
contention for the continued observance of the law, while 
those who did not do so sank to the position of heretics. 
Jewish Christianity, in both the kinds of it we have already 
seen, is to be met with frequently in the second century and 
not excluded from the Church 3 ; while members of their 
community seem, in the dispersion, to have been brought 
into contact with the Essenes and thus to have added another 
to the Jewish Christian sects 4 . 

But for the leading spirits of the Church — for those who 
followed in the lines of the older apostles as well as for the 

i Cf. Graetz, iv. 11, 78, 102. 

2 Gieseler, K. G., § 32. 

3 See for example, Justin Martyr, Dial., c. 46. 

4 Cf. Ritsehl, pp. 249 f. 


adherents of St Paul— the destruction of the Temple had a 
wider and deeper significance. They saw in it not only the 
confirmation of the prophecy of Christ 1 , but an earnest of 
the fact that the Jewish ritual and religion had been con- 
summated in His death. Not only is this, as has been 
already shewn, the burden of the Epistle to the Hebrews, 
but the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, too, direct attention 
not to the outward observances of Judaism but to the now 
realized spiritual truths of which these were the external 
signs. And when Baur speaks of the Hebrews as Jewish 
Christian 2 , and Schwegler 8 applies the same designation to 
such works as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Ignatian Epistles, 
and even the writings of Justin Martyr, they must be under- 
stood as using the word 'Jewish Christian' in another than 
its technical sense as already defined. These early writers 
by no means contended for the continuance of the Christian 
Church in the old Jewish ritual. The ' Shepherd ' of Hennas, 
which is one of the works claimed by Baur for Jewish 
Christianity, makes no mention of circumcision, Sabbath or 
feast day 4 , while Justin Martyr clearly says, " we live not 
after the law, nor are circumcised, nor keep Sabbaths 5 ." 
They regarded Judaism as completed and as having passed 
over into Christianity in a spiritualized form. The discussion 
of the relation of Judaism to Christianity was a common 
feature of almost all early Christian documents both within 
the canon and after its close, and, although their authors 
may have taken up different lines of argument, the canonical 
and patristic writings all looked on Judaism as a system 
which needed to be interpreted on account of its connection 

1 Cf. Justin, Dial, c. 40. 

2 Baur, K. O., p. 109. 

3 Nactop. Zeitalter, i. 189 ; cf. Baur, K. G., pp. 136 ff. 

4 Cf. Baur, K. G., pp. 134 f. 

5 Dial. c. 10; cf. cc. 11, 29. 


with Christianity, but which had do longer a legitimate 
existence of its own. 

This tendency was common to members of the Christian 
Church whether Jews or Gentiles by birth. The real Jewish 
Christians of the post-apostolic age were those who either, 
like the original apostles, continued to observe the Jewish 
rites themselves, or, like the opponents of St Paul, demanded 
that they should be performed by others as well. And the 
history of this age shews how, at the same time as these 
Jewish Christians were gradually becoming separated from 
the Christian Church as heretics, they were also cut off both 
from the main body of the Jewish people, and from the main 
lines of their development, coming into closer connection and 
union only with the excrescences from Jewish life, and thus 
getting fixed into the position of sects. 

The authorities on which we have to depend in tracing 
their relation to Judaism are the extant works emanating 
from members of the Jewish Christian sects, such as the 
' Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs ' and the ' Pseudo- 
Clementine Homilies ' and ' Recognitions 1 ' along with any 
other fragments that have been preserved; secondly, the 
accounts of Justin, Irenaeus, Origen, and Hippolytus— the 
last of whom draws chiefly from Irenaeus — and of later 
writers, such as Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome; and, 
thirdly, the Jewish records, which both supply information 
as to the external historical connection between the Jewish 
Christian sects of Palestine on the one hand and the Jewish 
people on the other, and also shew the points on which early 
Jewish authors thought it necessary to attack the new 
Christian faith. 


The Homilies date from the middle or latter half of the second century ; 
the Recog. are not much earlier than the middle of the third century.— J. B. 
Lightfoot, Galatiaw, p. 327— U. 


It cannot be said that the external relation between 
Jewish Christians and Judaism in this period bears any very 
close correspondence to the internal or doctrinal attitude in 
which they stood to one another. The ,non- Christian Jews 
were still the vast, as they were the increasing, majority of 
the ancient people. To them too belonged the leadership in 
any semblance of political existence they still had and in the 
common life of the nation ; and thus, in the outward relation 
between them and the Jewish Christians, they took the 
initiative, the latter being for the most part passive subjects 
who did not wish to break with the mass of their brethren. 
Now, to the Jewish eye, the distinctions between the various 
parties of the Jewish Christians of Palestine were of no 
great consequence. The latter were all Jews by birth, as 
well as by obedience to the law ; and they all had adopted a 
belief as to Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah, which 
seemed to the orthodox Jew to contradict true Judaism. 
Thus they all came under the same common designation of 
Minim or heretics, since their doctrines were inconsistent 
with, though they arose out of, their Jewish creed. 

But from the point of view of the Jewish Christians the 
case was different. Their aim was to maintain their Jewish 
customs along with their Christian faith, and to obtain a 
speculative view of the world and a practical attitude in 
which the two should be harmonized. And thus, according 
to their conception of things, they split up into various 
parties differing from one another in their inner or theological 
relation to Judaism and to Christianity. 

And yet, though the external and the internal relations of 
the Jewish Christians to Judaism cannot be said to corre- 
spond with any exactness to one another in the course of 
their development, they are similar in result; and, by the 
end of the second century, kll historical or real connection 


seems to have been broken off, as well as a complete doctrinal 
divergence to have been brought about, between the two 
parties. In relation to Judaism, as well as in relation to 
Christianity, the Jewish Christians became completely sec- 

In the remaining part of this dissertation, I shall trace 
first the external relations between the Jewish Christians 
generally and Judaism, and then the doctrinal attitude 
which the different sects bore to it, without going into details 
which the comparative absence of controversy in this part of 
the subject seems to render unnecessary. 

1. A start does not need to be made here, as was done 
in the apostolic age, with a state in which the relation of the 
Jewish Christians to Judaism was almost completely indeter- 
minate, and the germs of difference were only beginning to 
appear above the surface. There may still, indeed, have been 
some traces of this original unseparatedness among the ad- 
herents of Judaism and of Christianity in Palestine. When 
a new creed is struggling with an old one it is always the 
case that members of the same family and district are sepa- 
rated in their leanings, while some individuals half incline 
to the new faith and yet will scarce let go the old. Much 
more is this the case when the new religion is no foreign 
importation, but itself sprung out of the old, appealing very 
much to the same feelings and ideas as well as to the same 
people. But that the adherents of the two creeds were even 
towards the beginning of this period already out of sympathy, 
if not entirely out of external relation, with one another, is 
shewn by the poverty of the instances adduced by Graetz 1 to 
prove the close connection in which they still stood. 

1 Gesch. d. Juden, iv. 47 f., 89. 


The fact that a Jew suffering from the bite of a serpent 
may have thought of getting a Jewish Christian to cure him 
by the efficacious name of Jesus 1 is by no means to be won- 
dered at in the circumstances, and does not shew a close 
relation between Jews and Jewish Christians any more than 
Naaman the Syrians visit to Elisha proves that a kindly 
feeling existed between the worshippers of Kimmon and the 
servants of Jehovah. And, if another young Jew who had 
joined the Christian Church at Capernaum, was sent off by 
his guardian to Babylon to be out of harm's way, that only 
shews the opposition the Christians met with and the dislike 
with which their doctrines were regarded. The only other 
case brought forward by Graetz 2 is of more interest than the 
preceding. K. Elieser (d. 116— 7), a distinguished Jew, re- 
lated by marriage but a rival in doctrine to Gamaliel II, 
Jochanan's successor at Jamnia, persisted in directing his 
teaching and practice more in accordance with the system of 
Shammai than with that of Hillel whom the school of Jamnia 
followed. He thus came under the ban of the Synagogue, 
retired from Jamnia, and is afterwards found in Galilee, dis- 
puting on friendly terms with leaders of the Jewish Christian 
community there. The consequence was that "this cele- 
brated doctor of the Mishnah was, on account of his associat- 
ing with Christians, looked upon as a member of the Chris- 
tian society and placed at the bar of a criminal tribunal. ,, 
Elieser, however, easily satisfied the governor of Syria that 
he was a Jew and had no connection with the religio illicita 
of Christianity. 

But, not only does this event prove what indeed we know 
from other sources— that even the Komans, from their ex- 
ternal haughty point of view, could already distinguish clearly 
enough between Christianity and Judaism, and only that 
1 Cf - Ac *s iii. 6, etc. 2 Cf . Joglj 0J?> cit ^ p 33 n> 


some individuals made a temporary mistake as to the attitude 
of one man, but the conduct of R. Elieser was in defiance of 
an express decree of the Synhedrin, forbidding all dealings 
with Jewish Christians, — a decree whose justice he afterwards 

Already in the Patriarchate of Gamaliel II. 1 — according 
to Lightfoot 2 in 82 A.D. — the Synhedrin had forbidden all 
social intercourse as well as religious fellowship between the 
Jews and Jewish Christians. " I will buy with you, sell with 
you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following ; but I 
will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you," 
says the Jew in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice ; but, had 
Shylock lived in Palestine at the end of the first or in the 
second century A.D., he had not dared lend his gold to 
Antonio even for a " pound of Christian flesh." Not only 
was it forbidden to take meat or bread or wine from the 
Christians, as it had been forbidden to take them from the 
heathen before the destruction of Jerusalem ; but no business 
relations were allowed between them, and the use of the 
Christian miraculous cures was specially prohibited. The 
Christian creed was, in relation to Judaism, placed below 
the Samaritan heresy, and even, in many respects, below 
heathenism, and the Christian writings were condemned 
with the same sentence as the heathen books of magic. 
" The Gospels," exclaimed R. Tarphon, a fanatical opponent 
of Christianity and supposed to be the original of Justin 
Martyr's Trypho, "and every one of the writings of the 
Minim, deserve to be burned with all the holy divine names 
they contain. For Heathenism is less dangerous than the 
Jewish Christian sects, since it rejects the truths of Judaism 
from ignorance, but they both know and deny them. I 
would rather fly for safety into a heathen temple than into 
1 Cf. Graetz, iv. 103 ff., 434 f. 2 Works, in. 448. 


a meeting house of the Minim 1 ." The Jewish Christians 
were further accused of betraying the nation to the Romans, 
and the Jews did not scruple to bring against them the 
charges of secret immorality which had originated in the 
impure imaginations of the heathen opponents of Christi- 

To guard the Synagogue against the entrance of mem- 
bers of these hated sects, a form of curse (birchat hamminim) 
was, under the direction of Gamaliel, prepared by Samuel 
the Little, and introduced into the daily prayers. Graetz 
seems right in contending, following the testimony of 
Epiphanius 8 , that this curse was directed, not against the 
Christians at large, but against the Jewish Christians only. 
The evidence of Justin 8 and Jerome 4 seems indeed to point 
to a different conclusion ; but their statements are obviously 
looser and less exact than his. And the fact of the birchat 
being thus expressly limited shews still more plainly how 
deep was the hostility of the Jews to the Jewish Christians 
and how thorough their separation had become. Nor are we 
able to discover that the introduction of this formula and 
the explicit denunciation of the Jewish Christians by the 
non-Christian Jews had any striking effect upon the former. 
The fact seems to be that they were, for the most part, 
separated geographically not only from the Synagogue at 
Jamnia but from the chief Jewish centres to which the 
decision of the Synhedrin would be sent, that the alienation 
had already taken place, and that the chief result of the 

1 Graetz, iv. 103 ; cf. Weber, p. 148, 

2 Adv. Haer. 29, § 9 : rpls tt}s fotpas ore eux&s i-iriTc\ov<riv iv rats avr&v 
vuvayuyais, twapwrat atrots, Kal dpaB€iuiTlfrv<n <f>d<rKOVTes, oti 'E^/car/parai 6 
Oeds rods Naftepafovs. 

3 Dial., a 16. 

4 In Isaiam Hi. 5 : * Et sub nomine, ut saepe dixi, Nazarenorum, ter in 
die in Cnristianos congerunt maledicta.' 


decree and curse would be in helping to stop any tendency 
there might be among members of the Jewish communities 
to go over to Christianity. 

At Jerusalem, however, the two parties met and came 
to blows; and the martyrdom of Symeon the head of the 
Church there (107 A.D.) may perhaps be put down as an 
indirect effect of the birchat hamminim. It is evident, at 
any rate, from the account of Hegesippus preserved by 
Eusebius 1 , that his death was brought about by the Jews. 

This was a time, Eusebius tells us 2 , when a great 
number of converts were made from Judaism, and Symeon's 
prosecution was, no doubt, only one of frequent collisions 
between Jews and Jewish Christians at Jerusalem. It is 
instructive to note the tendency and ultimate result of these 
conflicts. If Dr Joel is right in saying 8 that, in the time 
of Trajan (116 A.D.), imperial permission was given to 
rebuild the Temple, that circumstance would bring out the 
difference between the national ideas of the Christian and of 
the non-Christian Jews. For the latter, the hopes of Judaism 
were buried amongst the ruins of the Temple, and could only 
revive with its restoration ; and it is not to be wondered at if 
they regarded the former as unnational because they had a 
wider view of what the nation's destiny was. It is probable, 
however, as Joel asserts, that many of those who adopted the 
extreme Jewish Christian view, sided, in this matter, with 
the party to which he restricts the name of ' national .' And 
it was just by such testing circumstances as these that the 
separation of Christian from non-Christian Jews would be 
rendered complete, by those who were more Jewish than 
Christian falling back into Judaism, and those who were 

i H. E., hi. 32. 2 Ibid., in. 35. 

3 Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte, pp. 14 if. 


more Christian than Jewish coming to see the difference 
of their own standpoint from the so-called 'national ' one. 

The final result of these national aspirations of the Jews 
is to be seen in the events that followed the rebellion of 
Bar Cochba. It is unnecessary to inquire here into the true 
cause of the treatment the Christians of Jerusalem received 
at the hands of that leader during his temporary success 
(132 — 4 A.D.) — whether it is true, as Justin relates, that they 
were tortured unless they denied Jesus and acknowledged 
Bar Cochba as the Messiah, or whether, as is asserted from 
the Jewish side 1 , the persecutions to which he subjected 
them were the consequence of their refusal to join his army 
against the Romans. But, when Hadrian was finally vic- 
torious and Bar Cochba routed (135 A.D.), when even the 
name of Jerusalem was abolished, and the Roman colony 
of Aelia took its place, when the Jews were forbidden to 
circumcise their children, to keep the Sabbath, to study 
their law, to observe any of the rites of their religion, or 
even to come within the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, it is 
no wonder that the members of the Christian Church there 
were then at last taught by harsh experience how incon- 
gruous their position was, persecuted by the Jews for be- 
traying them to the Romans, and by the Romans for being 
Jews. In a mission to Hadrian they denied their identity 
with their ancestral people and renounced the customs they 
had in common with them 2 . From this time the Church 
at Jerusalem was a Gentile Christian Church, and its first 
bishop Marcus was himself a Gentile and uncircumcised 8 . 

How great or how small a change this may have been 
to that Church we have no exact means of knowing. Its 
members had probably varied in sentiment and opinion 

1 Graetz, iv. 154 f., 457 f. a Graetz, iv. 183. 

3 Eus. H. E., iv. 6. 


though not in custom, some merely keepiug the law them- 
selves, as born Jews and unwilling to separate from their 
brethren, others contending for strict legal observance as 
obligatory upon all Christians. Nor can we tell whether, 
after the above events, any number of the latter agreed to 
sink their Jewish customs and submit to a Gentile bishop, 
or whether they preferred to separate themselves altogether 
from the community at Jerusalem. Even the orthodox 
non-Christian Jews of the period resolved for the time at 
any rate to give up the distinctive observances which ren- 
dered them obnoxious to punishment, and by the Decree of 
Lydda (whither the Synhedrin had migrated) determined 
to require from their adherents only these conditions : ab- 
stinence from idolatry, from marriage within the forbidden 
degrees, and from murder 1 . 

From this time Judaism goes along its own newly- 
found line of development, undisturbed by Jewish Christi- 
anity, while Jewish Christianity undisturbed by it, is found 
settled into its various forms according to the way in which 
it tried to reconcile Jewish observances with a certain belief 
in Christ. So little relation of any sort had it to Judaism, 
so little was connection between the two even conceived as 
possible, that, while intercourse with the heathen is expressly 
forbidden in the Mishnah, that work contains no ban against 
Jewish Christianity 2 . 

2. But it was not without controversy that this result 
was arrived at. We have already seen traces of contact 
between Jews and Jewish Christians, and, in notices pre- 
served in the Targum on the one hand, and in such a work 

1 Graetz, rv. 170. The similarity of these requirements to those of Acts 
xv. 29 will be noticed, 
a Graetz, iv. 238. 

S. H. E. r> 


as Justin's ' Dialogue with Tryplio ' on the other, we have 
a record of the subjects on which their disputes turned. 
The points on which the Jewish Christians were distin- 
guished from the Jews were now, as formerly, chiefly these: 
(1) that there was a tendency to modify their strict legal 
observance under the influence of the freer customs of the 
Gentile Christians, and (2) that there was at the same time, 
by a Christology more or less developed, a tendency to 
qualify the Jewish doctrine of the unity of God. 

(1) That the same standard of observance of the whole 
law was not maintained by all the Jewish Christians is 
evident from the number of sects to be met with in the 
post-apostolic age, whose distinctive characteristics can for 
the most part be traced to their varying attitude with 
regard to it. From the confused and incomplete accounts 
that have come down to us, we can see that there were some 
parties which yielded it a full and strict obedience, while 
others adopted a mediating position as to its binding force. 
We read, for example, of Merists, who contented themselves 
with observing parts of the law ; of Masboteans, who, as 
their name implies, were distinguished by their strict 
Sabbatic observance, though they may also have kept the 
Christian Lord's Day or Sunday ; and of Genists, who seem 
to have had no distinctive peculiarity separating them from 
other Christians, except their Jewish descent 1 . 

Much of the confusion in the extant accounts of the 
Jewish Christian sects arises from the want of definite 
names for the different tendencies. But, since Gieseler's 
famous article 'On the Nazarenes and Ebionites 2 / these 
two parties have been generally recognized as occupying 
distinct positions, while Ritschl has made out a clear case 

i Graetz, iv. 90, 433 f. 

2 Staudlin u. Tzchirner's Archiv fur dltere u. neuere K. G. % 1820. 


for separating from them a third sect — to which also the 
name of ' Ebionites ' is given by Epiphanius — from which 
sect the pseudo-Clementine Homilies evidently emanated. 
And these three are the sects which, both from their, promi- 
nence at the time, and from their historical significance, are 
of most interest to us. 

But we must remember that these parties were not at 
first so clearly marked off from one another as the accounts 
of the Church Fathers might naturally lead us to suppose 1 , 
and that, for example, the differences between Nazarenes 
and Ebionites may not for a time have been so pronounced 
as to lead to an actual separation between the two sects. 

The fact is that the key to the difficulty we meet with 
in treating of the post-apostolic age is to be found in the 
state of parties at the close of the apostolic age, along with 
the conditioning circumstances which intervened. The 
tendency of much recent criticism has, indeed, been quite 
opposed to this view, and the aim of the Tubingen school 
may be described as an attempt to explain the first century 
by the second, rather than the second through the first. 
But it is altogether illegitimate to import into an earlier 
the definite views and distinctions of a later age, though, 
conversely, the germs of difference found in the former must 
be used to explain the state of parties presented by the 

Now it has been shewn that before the close of the 
apostolic period, one party, following on the lines of the 
older apostles, agreed to acknowledge the Christianity of the 
Gentile converts upon condition (probably) that they should 
conform to the precepts obeyed by the Proselytes of the 
Gate, though they themselves kept all the observances of 

1 Cf. Uhlhorn, Art. 'Ebioniten' in Herzog's Realencykl. in. 623. 



the Mosaic law; that another party — the extreme Jewish 
Christians — not satisfied with keeping the whole law them- 
selves, demanded that all the Gentile converts should do 
the same, and even denied the apostleship of St Paul 
because he taught them otherwise ; while a tendency has 
also been noticed amongst representatives of the latter 
both at Rome and Colosse to adopt the practices of the 
Essenes rather than those of the Pharisaic Jews. Corres- 
ponding to these tendencies of the apostolic age, we are 
able to distinguish, from the rather mixed accounts which 
have come down to us, three different parties, or rather 
sects, of Jewish Christians in the second century. 

Though the names are not used with any uniformity by 
early writers, the first sect may be called — as, since Gieseler, 
historians have agreed in calling it — the Nazarenes, and the 
second the Ebionites, while the third may be distinguished 
as Essene Christians. 

The term ' Nazarenes ' was at first the common designa- 
tion of all Christians 1 ; and, when the latter name was 
introduced at Antioch, may still have been used by the Jews 
to distinguish the Palestinian followers of Jesus. It is 
possible, too, as Graetz asserts 2 , though by no means made 
out, that the term ' Ebionites ' had at first a similar general 
application, being given from the fact of the primitive 
Christians belonging for the most part to the poorer classes 
('eMdn = poor). But the earliest records contain no trace of 
the name, and the supposition may be entertained — since 
the derivations of Origen 3 and Epiphanius 4 are obviously 
fanciful — that it was first applied after the destruction of 
the Temple to those Jewish Christians who adopted the 
Essene manner of life, of which poverty was a prominent 

1 See Acts xxiv. 5, etc. 2 Gesch. d. Judeji, in. 249. 

3 Contra Celsum, n. 1. 4 Epiph. Haer., 30, § 17. 


characteristic, and that it was only afterwards extended to 
the Pharisaic party in the Church. 

One of the characteristics by which the two sects of 
Nazarenes and Ebionites were distinguished from each 
other is already pointed out by Justin 1 , who, in answer to 
Trypho, says that those who keep the law themselves will 
be saved if they recognize Jesus to be Christ of God, pro- 
vided they do not try to persuade the Gentiles that their 
salvation too depends on legal observance. The same dis- 
tinction is made by Jerome (about 400 A.D.), who speaks of 
the c Ebionites ' as holding absolutely that the law is binding 
and of the 'allies of the Ebionites' as holding that its ob- 
servance is obligatory on the Jews only 2 , the latter party being 
elsewhere 8 designated Nazarenes. These and other passages 
in Jerome, as well as the account of Epiphanius 4 , shew that 
the two parties — Nazarenes and Ebionites — maintained their 
position as to legal observance as late as the fourth or fifth 
century. But by the end of the second — already in Irenaeus 5 
— they seem to have been excluded from the Church. 

(2) Of still greater importance, however, in relation to 
Judaism, than their position as to the law, were the views 
these parties adopted as to the person and office of Christ. 
We have seen that, after the final destruction of the Temple 
and dispersion of their race, even the non-Christian Jews 
relaxed for a time the requirements of their ceremonial law. 
But they held with undiminished constancy to their national 
doctrine of the unity of God. This doctrine they now saw 
threatened by the new Christian faith; and, accordingly, 

1 Dial., cc. 46—8. 
3 In Isaiam, i. 2. 

3 Ibid. viiL. 11, 12: 'Nazaraei, qui ita Christum recipiunt ut observations 
legis veteris non omittant.' 

4 Cf. Haer. 20, § 9 : Nafijpcuoi ol Xpio-rbv o/uLoXoyowiv 'Iiycrou*' Tiov Qeov, 
w&vra 8k /card vofwv irokirevofAtvoi. 

5 Adv. Haer. i. 26 § 2, m. 15. § 1. 


we find an attempt on their part to emphasize and enforce 
the positions regarded as essential to orthodox Judaism, 
followed, however, soon after by a modified doctrine which 
endeavoured to share the advantages the Christian theology 
gained from its intimate correspondence with the postulates 
of the religious life. 

The latter tendency is to be found developed to an 
extraordinary degree in the Talmud; the former, simpler 
and more abstract in its theological conceptions, is the doc- 
trine of the earlier Targum. It has to defend Jewish mono- 
theism against the Christian faith which was regarded as 
merely a modified polytheism ; and it does so by contending 
that the divine essence is an abstract unity excluding all 
plurality, and the divine life a transcendent existence to 
which all self-communication is impossible, and which has 
no point of connection with the world or with man. 'It is 
blasphemy, these authors assert, to speak of God as having 
a son : " He is one and not two ; He is one, that is the Holy 
One, for of Him it is said, 'Jehovah our God is a one Je- 
hovah ;' and He is not two, for He has no companion bound 
to Him in His world, He has neither son nor brother." Nor 
has man any likeness to God ; if the Scripture speaks of 
him as becoming like God, it is the angels of God that are 
meant. God remains afar off from men, His presence among 
them being only represented by His Shechina, and when 
we read in Scripture that He entered into relations with 
or acted upon them, "the Targum transforms the divine 
activity or the actual relations into something that takes 
place in presence of God 1 ." Thus, although they tried to 
connect their views with the expressions of Scripture, these 
Jewish writers emphasized the divine unity and transcend- 
ence in such a way as to convert the personal God, whom 
1 Weber, p. 152. 


Hebrew history had regarded as having chosen and educated 
their race, into an abstract figment of the understanding 1 . 

This abstract view was succeeded, however, by a reaction 
which regarded the Torah or law as the complete and absolute 
revelation of God. And, alongside of, but in abrupt oppo- 
sition to, the theory just described, Talmud and Midrash look 
upon the Kingdom of God as the Kingdom of the Torah, and 
God Himself as a God of the Torah. It has been already 
pointed out how, in the Jewish state, all ecclesiastical, priestly 
and prophetic power and dignity had come to be vested in 
the Hachamim or Wise Men who were the experts in the 
law 2 . And as the theocracy had become a nomocracy, so, in 
the hands of these Jewish doctors, theology became expressly 
a nomism, according to which the divine nature found its full 
and only expression in the commands of the Jewish Torah. 
"God is law, say the Wise" may almost be taken as a con- 
densed expression of their creed. But by 'law' they did not 
mean the ultimate order of the universe, but the complex 
system of precepts by which their conduct was regulated, and 
which had been developed out of, or added to, the 'ten 
words' given to Moses at Sinai. "It was with this conception 
that Jewish theology left the path of mere negation, filled 
with life its hitherto empty notion of God, and placed in the 
room of the divine Self another in which God revealed Him- 
self. The Torah is the content of His life; in it His thought 
and will and action move 8 ." But, in avoiding thus the empty 
abstraction of their earlier theology, the Jews fell into an 
anthropomorphism much more pronounced than they had 

1 The subsequent development of this tendency, confirmed and defined 
by the influence of the Aristotelian philosophy, is briefly characterized in 
the opening pages of an article on * Jewish Mediaeval Philosophy and 
Spinoza ' contributed by the present writer to Mind for July, 1880. 

* Cf. Weber, pp. 121 ff. 

3 Weber, p. 153. 


blamed in the Christian creed. And God, who was at first 
regarded as revealing Himself in the Torah, came to be 
looked upon as subordinate to it almost in the same way as 
men are. It is spoken of as the goal of His will and action, 
and He is represented as affected with grief or with joy or 
with anger according to the position taken up by His people 
or His foes with regard to it. In fine, the spirituality of God 
and the other life is entirely lost in a theory which descends 
so far as to look on it as a school for the study of the Torah, 
and on Him as a great and learned Rabbi 1 . 

But, although the historical consequence of its rejection of 
the Christian doctrine of God and man thus gave an anthro- 
pomorphic and Judaistic turn to the theology of the Syna- 
gogue 2 , we have seen that it at first confronted what it regarded 
as the heresies of the Christian Jews with a rigid intellectual 
monotheism. It distinguished their position from that of 
the Nochri or heathen who were undoubted idolaters, and 
of the Kuthi or Samaritans who were suspected of idolatry. 
It acknowledged that they were originally members of the 
Jewish covenant, but regarded them as Minim or heretics 
since they had given up Jewish monotheism and held — so 
the Talmud puts it — that "the divine powers in heaven are 
many 3 /' 

In all this there is no distinction drawn between the 
various Jewish Christian sects, or even between these sects 
and the Jews who belonged to the catholic party in the 
Church. Nor is there any hint of the different attitudes to- 
wards Christology they adopted. It was enough for the 
Jewish doctors that all of them looked upon Jesus as the 
Messiah, and as holding a unique position in the universe, 
and performing functions which distinguished Him from 

1 Weber, p. 154. 2 Cf. ibid., p. 157. 

8 Ibid., p. 147. 


other men, and that by some at any rate He was* made equal 
with God/ 

And yet the most diverse views found currency among 
the Jewish Christian sects as to the person and office of 
Christ; and we find, as might be expected, that the more 
developed Christology goes along with the admission that 
the law is not absolutely binding on all Christians, while 
those who held to its universal validity, seem to have set less 
store by the work of Christ, and, at any rate, made less lofty 
claims for His person. 

In this way — by the difference in their Christological 
views — Origen (185 — 254 A.D.) distinguishes two classes of 
Ebionites, some of whom, he says, though they keep the law 
hold that Jesus was born of a virgin — admit His supernatural 
character — and thus boast themselves Christians, while others 
regard Him as born like other men 1 . And though it is 
doubtful whether these two classes are the same as the 
Nazarenes and Ebionites, the Christology of the former sect 
was similar to that of Origen's BlttoI 'JLfiicovaloi,. The belief 
that Christ was born of a virgin cannot, however, have been 
universal among the Nazarenes. The author of the 'Testa- 
ments of the Twelve Patriarchs' — a document emanating in all 
likelihood from this sect — holds that He was at first like 
other men, but that the Spirit of God descended upon Him 
at His baptism, working in Him both moral and intellectual 
perfection 2 and even making Him God 3 . 

1 Contra Celsum, v. 61 : "Etrr&wa^ 5^ rives Kai rov 'lrf<rovv dirodexofievoi, ibs 
Trapk tovto HLpMTTiavol etvai avxovvres' £n S£ ko.1 kclt& tqv TovSaluiv vofiov ws ret 
'IouSaiw*' Tr\r)07) (3lovv iOtXovres' ovtol 5' elcrlv ol BlttoI 'Ej&wcuct, tjtoi ifc 
IlapBe'vov b/xo\oyovvT€S 6/xoicos tj/mv top 'IrjcrovVt ij ovk ovto) yeyewrjadai, d\V 
cus Toits Xoc7toj)s dvffpvwovs. 

2 Test. xii. Patr , Levi, c. 18 (p. 1068, ed. Migne) : irvevfia o-vvfoeun /cat 
ayiaa/jLov KaTcnraixrei e7r' avTov iv rip vdart. See also Juda, c. 18 (ed. Migne, p. 
1084) ; cf. Ritschl, p. 173. 

3 Test. xii. Patr., Simeon, c. 7, p. 1052, ed. Migne : ' Aro<rr?i<rei yap K6pu>$ 


Origen further tells us that the Ebionites of both sorts 
rejected Paul's Epistles and did not recognize his apostle - 
ship 1 — a trait also recorded of them by Irenaeus 2 . This 
latter statement again would be hardly correct if his Scrrol 
9 Fif3co)vaioL meant the Nazarenes 3 . They did not, indeed, use 
Paul's Epistles — they for the most part knew no language 
but Hebrew 4 ; but, if the 'Testaments of the Twelve Patri- 
archs' can be taken as representing their views, they expressed 
the highest reverence for his person and sympathy with his 
work 5 . 

According to Epiphanius, the Nazarenes lived on the 
east side of the Jordan, at Pella where "all the believers 
in Christ dwelt together after the destruction of Jerusa- 
lem 6 ." They probably remained there after the return of 
the Church to Jerusalem and thus became fossilized in 
their then position, receiving no impulse from the forces 
that were at work without. Of the Christian Scriptures, 
they seem only to have used and only to have known 
(beyond a few fragments) a copy of the Gospel of Matthew 
in Aramaic 7 , or, more probably, of what is known as the 
Gospel of the Hebrews, — a circumstance also recorded of the 

As a sect the Ebionites were much more widely spread 

£k tov Aevt dpxtepia, kclI iic tov 'Ioudct pao~i\£a Qeov nal wdpwirov. O'ros <7c6<ret 
irwra ret £Qvt), kqX rb ytvos r(av 'lapar/X. 

1 Origen, loc. cit.: EtVi ydip rives alpfoeis r&s UaijXov iiri<TToXd\t tov &tto(tt6\ov 
fir] irpoaUnevai, wWe/^ 'E/3iwj/cuoi &fJL<f>6T€poi...OvK av ovv oi fiT) xpAf^voi r<j> 'Atto- 
crr6Xy, ws fiaKaplip tlvI kolI o~o<}>$ Xiyoiw t6. 

2 Adv. Haer., i. 26. 

3 Cf. Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 317, n. 3. 

4 Kitschl, p. 152. 

5 Test, xii. Pair., Benj. c. 11: 'AvaaT'/jcrei £k tov <T7r<^ar6s fJiov iv vo~Tipais 
Kcupois dyaTnjTbs Kvpiov, k.t.X. ; cf. Kitschl, p. 177. 

6 Adv. Haer., 30, § 2. 

7 Epiph. Haer., 29, § 9. 


and important than the Nazarenes. Their representatives 
were to be found at Home and other large centres l as well 
as alongside the Nazarenes at Pella. They counted too 
even Gentiles amongst their number, whereas the member- 
ship of the other and smaller sect seems to have been 
restricted to persons of Jewish race and even exclusive 
Jewish culture. But in their Judaean residence there was 
probably no distinct line of separation between the two. 
They seem to have been together at Pella. There, at any 
rate, there was not likely to be any division of race or 
confusion of culture ; and, in their common Hebrew descent 
and their views as to the binding force of the law, we may 
see the close relationship of thought and feeling which 
both the Nazarenes and Ebionites retained with Judaism. 
They were distinguished from other Jews by a certain belief 
in Christ, but, even on this point, they were unable to 
agree with the rest of the Church in their view of His 
person and function. 

In general the Ebionites appear to have occupied the 
standpoint of the extreme Jewish Christians of the apostolic 
age — though disputes as to the divinity of Christ had not 
then come to the front — , while the Nazarenes kept more 
closely to the views of the original apostles. With regard 
to the binding force of the law the latter seem to have 
accepted as a fixed dogma the compromise agreed upon 
at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts xv.), and thus not only 
practically to have excluded the Gentile Christians from 
social intercourse with them, but to have attributed to 
Jewish Christians a sort of pre-eminence in the Christian 
Kingdom. Thus they continued to hold to what seems 
to have been the first idea of the apostles — the expectation 

1 Ibid., 30, § 18; cf, Lightfoot, Galatiam, p. 321. 


that all Israel should be converted as the first fruits to the 
Lord, and then as a united people bring the Gentiles into 
the fold of the Church. But they went further than the 
apostles in claiming for the Jews not merely a prior right 
of admission to the new Kingdom, but also a higher place 
and office within it. The destruction of Jerusalem, however, 
removed any such ideas from the leading minds of the 
Church, and the catholic writers of the second century agree 
with St Paul in looking upon the Gentiles as filling the 
place in the covenant of God from which the Jews had 
fallen through unbelief 1 ; while, on the other hand, the 
'Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs' still anticipate the 
restoration of the Jewish people, and the Ebionites, ac- 
cording to the account of Irenaeus, seem to have looked 
for the re-establishment of the Temple and its worship: 
"adored Jerusalem as the house of God 2 ." It appears, 
moreover, from the passages already quoted from the 
'Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs ' and from the 
accounts of Epiphanius and others 3 , that the Nazarenes 
agreed in attributing, in one way or another, a divine nature 
to Christ, whereas the Ebionites regarded Him as ' man of 

Thus both the Nazarenes and the Ebionites look from 
the Jewish point of view, and yet manifest very different 
tendencies in their treatment of the relation of Judaism to 
Christianity. On every point the Ebionites were thorough 
Jews and but superficial Christians, whereas the Christianity 
of the Nazarenes seems to have sunk deeper than their 
Judaism. For the Ebionites held the eternal binding va- 

i Cf. Bitschl, p. 172. 

2 Adv. Haer., i. 26. Compare the similar views of the non- Christian Jews 
in the passages cited by Weber, pp. 356 if. 

3 Cf. Epiph. Haer., 29, § 6. 


lidity of the law, while the Nazarenes admitted its muta- 
bility or relativity by not exacting its observances from 
Gentile Christians. The one looked upon Christ as a mere 
man (-^iXo? dv6pa)7ro<;), the other recognized Him as, in some 
sense at any rate, divine ; and the former looked for the 
restoration of the Temple-worship — an expectation not 
shared by the latter. 

The Nazarenes thus broke with Pharisaic Judaism, their 
opposition to which is further seen in their rejection of its 
speculative doctrine of dpappkv<r\ or predestination; and, 
in trying to defend their Judaism without regarding as 
essential the observances laid stress on by the Pharisees, 
seem to have followed the notable course — so Epiphanius 
tells us 1 — of rejecting the Pentateuch, saying that the law 
was in reality different from what was generally supposed : 
they appealed from Mosaism to the religion of the Patriarchs. 
It is hardly necessary to say that the distinction of Pa- 
triarchism, Mosaism and Christianity, as three stages of 
religion or even three different religions, has become almost 
a commonplace in theology. But what is noticeable here 
is the identification of the first and third of these stages, 
and the rejection of the second as a falsification of the first : 
so widely did this party of Jewish Christians diverge from 
the old Jewish ground. This remarkable tendency is shared 
by the so-called ( Ebionites ' (Epiphanius) or ' Essene Jewish 
Christians' (as Ritschl calls them), to whom we owe the 
pseudo-Clementine Homilies, and whose " characteristic 
doctrine" according to Schliemann 2 "was the distinction 
of the original religion from the religion of the Old Testa- 
ment and the identification of the former with Christianity." 
It is also to be met with in Justin Martyr who, in his 

1 Epiphanius, Adv. Haer., 18, § 1. 

2 Die Clementinen, p. 514. 


'Dialogue with Trypho 1 / regards Christianity in opposition 
to the law of Moses as equivalent to the religion of the 
Patriarchs ; and, as the name suggests, it is the keynote of 
the 'Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs' in which the 
ceremonial observances of the Mosaic ritual entirely dis- 
appear, and the law of righteousness is seen to have a purely 
moral content. 

It is difficult to say where this latter tendency may have 
come from, but it is not improbable that it was, partly at 
any rate — that is, in its view of Scripture, not in its 
rejection of ceremonialism — due to the influence of the 
Essenes, with whom the Nazarenes can hardly have failed 
to come into contact from the proximity of their respective 
abodes. Not merely the strict morality of the Nazarenes 
but also other traits recorded of them by Epiphanius, — such 
as their rejection of sacrifice and their abstinence from wine 
and from animal food — remind us of the practices of Es- 
senism, while that sect was also freer in its attitude towards 
Scripture than either Pharisees or Sadducees, and seems 
to have looked not merely on its own doctrines but also 
on itself as of more remote antiquity than even Moses. 

It is possible of course that there may be some confusion 
in Epiphanius s account, so many points in his description of 
the Nazarenes tally with the characteristics of the Essene 
Christians he calls Ebionites. But it is still more probable 
that there was a real similarity between the two sects. 
Essene influence would in all probability reach and affect the 
Nazarenes, shut out as they were from all contact with the 
non-Jewish world, and, by the decree of Gamaliel, from 
contact with orthodox Judaism itself. 

Separated in this way both from Christianity and from 
Judaism, and gaining accretions only from the outlying reli- 
1 Cc. 19, 20. 


gious parties of the latter, the Nazarenes lived on as a semi- 
Christian sect into the fifth century. 

Similar considerations to the above may also lead us to 
believe that it was not a mere blunder that made Epipha- 
nius describe a party of Essene Christians under the name of 
'Ebionites/ For, while their views (so much more nearly 
related to Judaism than to Christianity) shut out the Phari- 
saic Ebionites from the Church, the birchat hamminim also 
excluded them from the society of strict Jews. It must 
therefore have been hard indeed to maintain the position of 
a Pharisaic Ebionite, and we may well believe that many — 
perhaps the mass of those resident in Palestine: those in 
other countries might be less affected by the decree — gradu- 
ally adopted the practices of the Essenes with whom they 
would naturally have been already brought into contact in 
their retirement at Pella, not far from the Essene settlement 
on the shores of the Dead Sea. It would be the less difficult 
for them to give up their Pharisaic traditions, since those 
into whose hands these traditions had passed denounced 
them openly in their synagogues ; and to leave off sacrifice, 
since it was no longer possible for them to perform it in the 
only way the levitical ordinances permitted. However this 
may be, the so-called ' Ebionites ' of Epiphanius were cer- 
tainly far removed from Pharisaism, though traces of the old 
Pharisaic Jewish Christianity of the apostolic age may be 
found in their repeated references to Peter as their model 
and authority \ and in their bitter attacks on Paul 2 . But 
their distinctive features are undoubtedly those of Essenes 
brought over to a certain belief in Christ, — features also to 
be traced in the extant work belonging to the end of the 

1 Epiphanius, Adv. Haer., 30, §§ 15, 21; Clem. Horn. 'Ep. Pet. ad Jac.' 
c. 4 ad init. 

2 Ep. Adv. Haer., 30, § 16 : « Ep. Pet. ad Jac. c. 2. 


second century and dating from Rome, the pseudo-Clemen- 
tine Homilies 1 . 

The relation to Essenism of the party described by Epi- 
phanius as 'Ebionites/ to whom also we owe the pseudo- 
Clementine writings, has been so exhaustively discussed by 
BAtschl that it is scarcely possible to refer to the subject 
without simply repeating what has been much better said by 
him. Both parties had a common foundation in Judaism — 
in their strict observance of circumcision 2 , Sabbath and the 
other requirements of the law. But both differed very essen- 
tially from the Judaism in the ascendant at the time, and 
differed from it in the same way, as well in custom as in 

Both rejected the sacrificial system of the Temple. The 
Essenes held it unallowable even to kill animals; these 
c Ebionites ' considered that sacrifice had at least been done 
away with by Christ*. And, instead of a priesthood in which 
one man sacrificed for the sins of the people, both Essenes 
and ' Ebionites ' sought priestly purity for every individual. 
Hence their abstinence from wine and flesh, and their ablu- 
tions before food — recorded of Peter in the Clementines as 
well as of the Essenes — and also on other occasions. These 
* Ebionites ' looked upon water as having a special cleansing 
power and»are said to have held it as a God 4 ; and even to 
this (probably) exaggerated statement of their veneration for 
a material object, there is a parallel in the adoration paid 
by the Essenes to certain visible things as manifesting the 

1 Cf. Schwegler, Nachap. Zeitalter, i. 377 ff. 

2 This is however no longer required of the Gentiles in the Ps.-Clem. Horn. 

3 *HX0oj> KaraXvcraL rets dvaias Kai edv fij] iraticrrjcrde tov dveiv, oft iravaerai 
d<ff hfxlbv if dpyf}. Ebionite Gospel in Epiphanius, Adv. Haer. y 30, § 16. 

4 Epiph., Adv. Haer., 20, § 10. T6 tidwp dvrl Qeod ? X ov<n. See Clem. Horn. 
xi. 24, and Eecog. vi. 8 ; cf. Zeller, Philosopliie der Griechen, in. ii. p. 254. 


Divinity, and in their invocation of the rising sun. The 
dread initiatory oath too of the Essenes — though oaths were 
otherwise forbidden by both — passed over with but slight 
changes into the 'Ebionite ' community of Elxai 1 . 

The greatest practical difference between the Essenes and 
these ' Ebionites ' or Elkesaites was in relation to marriage, 
which was abjured by the one and rendered compulsory by 
the other 2 . But even here there is a connecting link between 
the two, for there was always a section of the Essenes by 
whom the old Jewish reverence for marriage was carried out 
in practice, while, on the other hand, the account of Epipha- 
nius 3 speaks of a time when the * Ebionites* valued virginity 
as highly as they afterwards did the wedded life. 

The care with which the Essenes guarded the inner doc- 
trines of their sect and the fact that a similar secrecy was 
practised by these ' Ebionites ' make it almost impossible to 
compare their creeds. But both had their mystic books, and 
the dualistic philosophy that prevailed in the one was con- 
tinued in the other. And if the ' Ebionite ' distinction of the 
Old Testament prophets into two classes (and the rejection 
of one class as false), and their objections to the integrity of 
the Pentateuch, have nothing exactly to answer to them 
from the side of the Essenes, yet the latter also appear, from 
Philo's account 4 , to have dealt with Scripture in a free alle- 
gorical fashion. 

There seems to have been only one point in the system 
of these so-called Ebionites which cannot be traced in germ 
to the Essenes, and that is their Christianity. Ritschl 5 tries 

1 The book of Elxai or Elchasai professes to have been written in the reign 
of Trajan ; it was brought to Eome in the beginning of the third century by 
missionaries of the Essene Christians.— Lightfoot, Galatiam, pp. 324 f. 

2 Epiph. Haer., 19, § 1, 30, §§ 2, 15, 18. 

3 IMd.,30, §18. 

4 Quod omnis probus liber est, e. 12. 5 p. 223. 

S. H. E. 6 


to account for this by supposing that they would be led to 
look upon Christ as the true prophet when they saw His 
predictions as to the overthrow of the Temple fulfilled. How- 
ever this may be, it is just here that the members of the sect 
differed most among one another. For while a considerable 
uniformity of opinion seems to have existed among them on 
other topics, they held the most diverse views as to the 
person of Christ. By some He was regarded as the son of 
Joseph, by others as an archangel, while some held that the 
Christ had been several times incarnate, first of all in Adam 
and last in Jesus. In these and other such expressions 1 we 
see the traces of that incipient Gnosticism, which, with its 
often fantastic medley of Greek and Oriental conceptions 
applied to Christ and Christianity, was already beginning to 
find its way into the Church. And even here we must note 
that the origin of Essenism too has been referred by some to 
that school of Greek philosophy which has most in common 
with Oriental ideas — Pythagoreanism 2 — , and by others 
directly to. Oriental sources 3 . Whether either Dr Zeller's 
theory on the one hand, or that of Hilgenfeld and Bishop 
Lightfoot on the other, can be made out historically does not 
concern us here. For it is obvious that, whether influenced 
or not by this type of thought in their rise, the Essenes 
betrayed plainly enough a similar tendency in some of their 
doctrines, and were thus eminently capable of assimilating it 
whenever it came in contact with them*. And thus it 

1 Cf. Clem. Horn., xvii. 10, etc. 

2 Zeller, Phil. d. Griechen, in. ii. pp. 279 ff. 

a Hilgenfeld, Zeitschrift fur wissenschaftliche Theologie, x. (1867), pp. 
97 ff., xi. (1868), pp. 343 ff. Lightfoot, Colossians, pp. 386 ff.; cf. 83 ff. 

4 Schliemann (Die Clementinen, pp. 505 ff.) distinguishes these 'Ebion- 
ites ' into two classes — common and Gnostic — according as they were not or 
were under the influence of this kind of speculation (the Clementine Homilies 
belonging of course to the latter class) . 


happens that, even in those ways of regarding Christ just 
mentioned, we may, as Ritschl 1 has pointed out, see the 
formative influence of Essenism in moulding the conception 
of Christ received from without. A similar influence may 
also be traced in the extraordinary figurative representation 
of Christ which forms the basis of the Vision of Elxai 8 — a 
conception similar to that of the 'Adam Kadmon' or first 
emanation from the primal En-soph, which played so remark- 
able a part in the Neoplatonic literature of mediaeval 

When we consider then that the 'Ebionites' of Epiphanius 
and the pseudo-Clementine writings differ from the Essenes 
of Philo and Josephus in no essential respect except in their 
recognition of Christ, when we remember that we have no 
historical information of the existence of the Essenes after 
the destruction of Jerusalem, or of that of these 'Ebionites' 
before it; seeing, moreover, that the 'Ebionites' suddenly 
rise to view from the very places in the proximity of which 
the Essenes were to be met with, as well as at the very time 
at which the latter disappeared from history ; and when the 
only differentiating factor between the two — the introduction 
of Christ into their doctrines — is accounted for by the intro- 
duction of Christians into their neighbourhood, it is scarcely 
possible to resist the conclusion that these 'Ebionites' were 
simply Essenes converted to a form of Christianity, and 
mixed with a considerable number of Jewish Christians, who 
infused into the sect that intense hatred for Paul and that 
unqualified reverence for the authority of Peter which are so 
conspicuous alike in the account of Epiphanius and in the 
pseudo-Clementine writings. 

But, while a large number of the Jewish Christians thus 
became associated and identified with a Jewish sect, the 
1 Pp. 211 ff. 2 Epipk, Adv. Haer., 30, § 17. 


members of this sect had always lived outside the main 
currents of Jewish life and history, and, in adopting as they 
now did a certain form of Christianity, lost any remnants of 
outward connection with Judaism they may have had before, 
and even in their doctrines, fell back on what they con- 
sidered to be an earlier and purer legislation than that of 
Moses. What has been found to be true of the Nazarenes 
and Pharisaic Ebionites is also true of these Essene Jewish 
Christians. In the course of the second century the various 
parties of so-called Jewish Christianity became as completely 
sectarianized in relation to Judaism as they were in relation 
to Christianity, — excluded from the Synagogue even before 
their separation from the Church. 

The course this essay has traversed shews how misleading 
it is to look with Baur on the early history of Christianity as 
ruled by the conflict of two parties standing over against one 
another in abrupt opposition, and by their attempts at re- 
conciliation. What we have really had to do with was the 
development of a single force, which got possession of the 
minds of the early disciples, which modified and in turn 
was moulded by its environment, and which found its 
realization in the Christian Church. We have seen that 
not one of the apostles merely, but all the apostles, were 
impressed with this new idea, and that it led them by a 
necessary process beyond the Judaism in the midst of which 
they had been brought up and it had had its origin. Here, 
as always, there was a conflict indeed between the new and 
the old. For the customs and ceremonies which had grown 
up alongside of the Jewish faith in an earlier stage were not 
at once given up when it reached its consummation at a 


higher point. The old ceremonies were indeed broken 
through by the new step the national life had taken, and the 
old customs fell away. But they were broken as the bud 
breaks before the blossom ; they fell as the blossom itself 
falls before the advancing fruit. The whole development 
was a natural and consecutive one in which the Christian 
Church worked out into fuller realization the idea that had 
been latent in it from the first, and gave birth to institutions 
organically connected with its own life to replace the anti- 
quated law and ritual of Judaism. 

It is from this point that we are able to see the harmony 
of the results arrived at in the discussion of the apostolic 
age with those reached in considering the controversies and 
parties of the post-apostolic age. It might seem at first that 
the former indeed presented us with a natural movement of 
history, whereas, in the latter, we had nothing before us but 
a confused medley of sects. And this is so far true. For, in 
the one period, we had to trace the process by which the 
early Christians were gradually separated from Judaism, in 
the other we had to deal with the relation to the old doctrine 
and ceremonial of those who tried to retain them along with 
the new faith. In the former we saw the Church led step 
by step beyond the circle and influence of the Jewish in- 
stitutions, while those who, by their attachment to Judaism 
proving too strong for their Christianity, or by their narrow- 
ness of vision, could not be induced to make this advance, 
were left behind in the march of history, and gave rise to 
the so-called Jewish Christianity of the second century. It 
is thus a verification of the conclusions arrived at in the 
study of the one period, when we find that the Jewish 
Christian sects of the other were without any principle of 
life enabling them by activity or by influence to justify their 
existence. We have seen that some of them tried to main- 


tain the strict Pharisaic position, and some to modify its 
demands, while others adopted the customs and doctrines of 
the Essenes. But, in the various attitudes they took up to 
the Jewish law and creed, we have found that they were at 
one at any rate in this — that they lost all part in the new 
development of their nation. Left behind in the advance of 
the Church, their Christianity was only sufficient to cut them 
off from the sympathy and fellowship of the Synagogue. 

It is one of Baur's most suggestive remarks, that it was 
the same deep insight into the true nature of Christianity 
which made St Paul first its bitter opponent and then its 
boldest champion against the trammels of the law. He saw 
from the beginning how impossible it was for its spiritual 
content to be held by the forms of Judaism ; and the history 
of Jewish Christianity is the most striking testimony to the 
wisdom of the course he followed. The apostolic age has 
shewn us that the belief of the early disciples contained an 
element which forced them to break through the bonds of 
Jewish custom and nationality ; and we have seen how those 
who, in the post-apostolic age, strove to retain the latter 
along with the former, were, in their attempt to do so, sepa- 
rated from Christianity without being kept in any living 
relationship to Judaism. No stronger confirmation could be 
given to the truth of the view that the new religion so sur- 
passed and transcended the system in which it originated as 
to make Jewish Christianity almost a contradiction in terms. 


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